Orientation Week, lovingly known as O-Week, is something that is celebrated in most colleges around the world to ease you into the next transformative years of your life as gently as possible. It may also been seen as a clever ruse to tricking you into believing that your life is no longer a mess and all that is to follow is fun and games. Some describe it as the highlight of their college experience, some look back at it as the most cringe-worthy period of their existence, and heck, some simply don’t bother attending. While the perspectives may vary, one thing is clear: you don’t forget your O-Week, and for good reason. It is a time of exhilaration and apprehension; new beginnings and naivety. No one can ever truly prepare you for it, but I’ll try my best by providing you with this handy dandy guide on making the most of O-Week.
Alright kids, here’s a non-exhaustive list of things you should know:
1) First of all, try to be as well-rested as possible before it all starts. It would also do you good to stack up on some of those multivitamins your mom insists on you eating, because trust me, you’ll be needing those. After a summer spent lazing around, your body is very much likely to cripple under the weight of ~12 hours of activities – I have not yet come across a single person who hasn’t complained about aching limbs and an overall dead-ness by the end of Day 1. You will feel pain erupting from muscles you never knew you possessed, and you’ll discover all the new and exciting ways in which a single shoulder can hurt. Early mornings coupled with late nights for a continuous week would guarantee a loss of strength and you will most likely find yourself experiencing early signs of aging. Lethargy will be your middle name. But of course, it’ll all be worth it.
2) Dress for comfort. You’ll probably dress up really nicely the first day in honour of the opening ceremony, but you might want to take your sanity into consideration for the rest of the week. Remember: the days will be long, hot and exhausting. Most importantly, do yourself a favour and please wear comfortable walking shoes that will last you the day without pinching your toes or stabbing your heels. That nice pair of ballet flats that you trust for everyday-wear? Throw it away. Or be ready to experience betrayal of the most painful kind. Your best bet is a nice pair of sneakers or boots that will survive the long walks you’ll be taking all around campus all day long.
3) Have an open mind. It is highly likely that your O-week group would be entirely made up of strangers, many with interesting personalities. I know that you would rather ditch your group to go hang out with your old school buddies, but please, please don’t. Not only would you miss out on a lot of awkward-yet-endearing bonding, you would also be doing yourself the disservice of narrowing your boundaries at the very beginning of a new experience. So just let go of preconceived prejudices, see beyond how “weird” someone may be and simply try to have a nice time with people who are just as nervous and excited as you are. You are no better or no worse than anyone else around you; don’t forget that you all made it here through a similar procedure, and you all deserve to have a good time.
4) Listen, loosen up. It has probably been a long time since you’ve experienced a “first”, and it is entirely normal for you to be nervous in a new environment. But here’s the thing: no one knows you. You are a blank slate right now and it is entirely up to you how you present yourself to the world. If anything has ever held you back in life or made you second-guess your every move, let go of it. O-week gives you the chance to experience “firsts” you never thought you could, so give yourself a break. Whether it’s singing in public, or participating in group sports, or simply divulging a never-uttered secret to your group-mates in the middle of the night, just do it. No one’s judging.
5) Know that your O-week does not necessarily set the pace for the rest of your college years. If you had the misfortune of meeting not-so-good people in this first week and experiencing difficulties fitting in, know that it gets better. If you experienced an exciting high that first week only for it to fade into a mundane routine, know that it is perfectly normal too. As far as people go, you might end up meeting your best friends that first week. Or maybe you hardly wave at your group-mates as you pass them by in hallways. Either way, your shared experience of entering this university as oblivious newbies is not going to fade for the rest of your life, and that’s a special bond you’ll always share. As for the rest of your academic life? You’ll survive that too.
6) At the end of the day, you define your own O-week experience and it’s up to you to make the most of it. You’ll meet enough people in that first week to run you through the essential do’s and don’ts about things from food choices to the woes of course enrollment (tip: become best-friends with your o-week coaches!), so it’s best not to worry yourself sick over things you’ll catch up on later. Right now is the time to breathe, relax, and look forward to the beginning of the most unforgettable time of your life. Congratulations to YOU for making it this far – there’s a long way to go and just so much to do, so you better buckle up for a fun ride!
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