How To Survive College Orientation

Friday, June 19, 2015

It was Monday morning. Our bellies were still stuffed with Chinese food from yesterday's dinner, and our feet were feeling sore after getting lost in Austin the night before. Or Lostin as my dad calls it. 

My dad helped me carry my overstuffed suitcase down the staircase of the parking garage. I'd love to tell you how confident I was as I made the slow and steady descent towards the orientation check-in tables, but I was terrified. 

The funny thing about this whole scenario is the fact that I'm one of those people who wanted high school to end the day it started. During my freshmen year, I watched my brother finish his last year of high school. I watched him apply to college, go to his last homecoming, play his last basketball game, accept admission to college and eventually graduate. I had just started high school, and I was more than ready to leave home and embark on the new adventure that college is. Yet as I walked down those parking garage stairs, all of these feelings flew out the window. 

Graduating from high school is a weird thing. You're in a sort of limbo. It's like the days between Christmas and New Years. Everything seems indefinite and capable of changing at the drop of a hat. Even though I know I'll be moving out and going to college come August, none of it seemed real until I set foot on campus.

So this is where my story begins. The second my keds-clad feet stepped on campus. The second I got swept away with a crowd of future freshmen, overexcited advisors calling out room assignments in the background. From the second I realized how utterly alone I was to the second I realized that I was going to be okay. This is how to survive college orientation. 

  • First things first, everyone is scared at orientation. And that's okay. Even the boy on my dorm hall who seemed to know half the people attending orientation admitted to being anything but fearless. But after 3 days surrounded by strangers and foreign settings, I've come to realize that being fearless isn't just the absence of fear in a person. Being fearless it the presence of fear. Heck, fear can be thriving, yet the person makes a decision to look past this fear. 
  • Sometimes you're in a room full of people, yet you feel overwhelmingly alone. Pull up a chair at a random table. Eat by yourself. Go sit outside. It's okay to be lonely, but you're never really alone. There's always someone who wants to talk to you. 
  • Ask for help if you need it. I was too proud to do this and ended up walking 2 miles out of my way to a particular classroom on campus. Save yourself the miles and ask for help. 
  • If the conversation is running dry, bring up Beyonce or Harry Styles. It seems like everybody has an opinion about them.
  • Keep an open mind. I had an hour conversation with a girl about her getting high on graduation night and smoking with her mom as she packed for orientation. Her life was another world to me, but it was the most entertaining lunch I've had in a while.
  • Pack an umbrella. White shirts + rainy days suck. Actually, any shirt + rainy days suck, so save yourself the misery and pack an umbrella. 
  • Carry a water bottle. I never realized how much water I drank until I was walking around campus in 90F weather without any accessible water in the foreseeable future. It's not a pleasant situation. 
  • Put your phone down. I'm totally guilty of being overly attached to my phone. My phone completely stopped working during orientation, so I was pretty much cut off from everyone while I was there. Instead of looking down at my phone while I was walking or trying to pretend that I'm not an awkward person, I had to face the world without the protection of a phone. And I met a lot of people when I was looking up. 

Orientation is scary, but I did it, so I know you can. Smile at strangers and put yourself out there. You got this.

"Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does."

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8 Happy Thoughts

  1. My orientation was a weekend long thing and we stayed in one of the big freshman dorms. It was HORRIBLE! I wish I had just skipped it, haha! It was so unneeded!

    1. Unfortunately my orientation was mandatory. Otherwise, I wouldn't have thought twice about skipping it! I think most people hate orientation, so that's making me feel so much better, you have no idea!

  2. LOL and OMG. I had to say it, because this is gold. All of these are completely spot on, and memories are currently flooding back from my orientation a year ago. You know exactly what's up, girl. It's SUCH a weird transition that not many people open up about, but everyone definitely feels the same way— a little lonely, lost, scared, excited, and confused. It's an awesome ride though.

    1. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to wake up at 2 AM in a cold sweat with war-like flashbacks of orientation one night. It's beyond crazy! I'm rerreading your old blog posts when you first started college looking for any tips!!

  3. Everything about this is SO true! Orientation was by far the scariest thing I did freshman year, but I met a couple people there that turned out to be good friends. Love your advice!!


    1. It was SO scary. No one ever really told me anything about orientation, so I had no idea what to expect. I'm so glad someone else was scared!!

  4. Oh girl, my orientation was only a one-night thing and I thought I was going to die. Okay, slight exaggeration but it was terrible! I was completely un-psyched for college afterwards but my orientation experience at least was nothing like, all to say, if you feel discouraged or overwhelmed at all afterwards, there's nothing to fear about college and just everything to be excited about!

    1. The first night, I was 100% positive that I would not make it to the 3rd day. But somehow, I made it through. Everyone's telling me that orientation is NOTHING like the actual college experience, so that's got me excited! Thanks for your encouraging words! It's helped me get a little less un-psyched :-)


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