Let’s start this off by my admitting that my formative years in public school were less than exemplary. In fact, some of them were downright terrible. So after I graduated from the adolescent prison we euphemistically call “high school,” I escaped over 2,000 miles away, to Pacific University. It was an excellent choice, don’t get me wrong, but there were some things I wish I’d been a tad more prepared for.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to go out and meet new people, are comfortable in completely alien surroundings, thrives on unadulterated enthusiasm, and enjoys playing ice-breaking games in small groups, then orientation will be a cake walk for you. But if you’re not, here’s a tip: you’re not alone. The best part of my orientation was noticing that another guy in my pod found the whole event as awkward and uncomfortable as I did, because it meant I wasn’t a freak. Well, ok, I was still a freak, but I was a freak with a new friend!
The fact is, orientation is important to your ascension into college, lame as it may seem sometimes. It’ll help you get to know the campus without being “that guy” on the first day of classes, desperately begging upperclassmen for directions. You’ll be forced to meet people other than your roommate, which will significantly expand your real-life social network. Best of all, it only lasts a couple of days. You’re young and you’ll survive.
As for the rest of that messy stuff we refer to as “college life,” here are just a couple more tips that would have been helpful to me when I first arrived on campus. Regardless of how clean and organized you think you are, your dorm room will get dirty immediately. There will be dust bunnies in the corner of your desk and inside your fridge and you will have no idea how they got there. Clean them as soon as you spot them, because trust me, once they start mating you’ll have to call animal control in order to safely inhabit your room.
Your resident assistant may seem scary and overly enthusiastic at first, but they are an incredible resource for you. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help or let them know that you’re having problemsw, whether it’s your roommate, your classes or even that broken light above your mirror. That’s what they’re there for, so let them help!
Most importantly, you’re probably going to be terrified of something at some point. Maybe it’s having a roommate you’ve never met, a particularly daunting final, not immediately making friends or even being away from home for the first time in your life. This is my final bit of advice, so listen closely: you’ll be ok. Everyone is awkward and unsure about this new step in their life at first. Embrace the freedom, join a few low-responsibility clubs, do your homework and go ahead and push back your bedtime a couple hours. By November, you’ll be having such a blast here you won’t even remember why you were so scared. Take it from the most awkward and unsure person of all: everything will work out, because you’re in college now, baby, and anything is possible.