Orientation week is a changing thing. Heraclitus would laugh at me, I’m sure, but it is intriguing to really experience the proverbial passage of time. To think that I am getting older, that I may be out of touch.
For instance, when I learned that the headline artist for the 2013 Orientation Concert is going to be Lupe Fiasco, my response was:
To which I received a look not altogether dissimilar to this:
At which point I felt . . .
I remember my orientation week, back in September of 2009. Not really that long ago, but somehow it feels ancient. The whole memory revolves around a t-shirt. Possibly the most significant sign of orientation week—the t-shirts!
I was at New College then, and our shirts were an orangey-yellow, with green lettering. They had a bull, or a gnu (it’s like a bull and a deer mixed) on the front. I cannot remember the theme of my orientation, but I remember receiving a laundry bag full of goodies, and a water bottle. Deodorant, gum, pencils, and condoms—everything a first year student really needs! Mostly, I miss that water bottle.
Anyway, the next thing I remember I was standing in a crowd of yellow t-shirts. All of us wide eyed, wondering what was happening. Orientation leaders were shouting, calling names, getting us all excited, and I was thirsty. I remember it was hot and loud, and someone gave me a lanyard with my name on it.
That’s when I left. Yep, that’s right—guilty as charged. I turned and walked quietly away.
#1 I am not a fan of crowds.
#2 I was thirsty.
#3 I wanted to experience orientation in my own way.
I walked from New College down Willcocks St., across St. George St., through that little alleyway that is beautiful in the fall and slow in the winter, and found myself at King’s College Circle. I sat down on the grass at the side of the road, on the lawn of UC, and watched.
It was unbelievable! There were so many t-shirts. Red, blue, purple (mostly purple skin), orange, green! Everywhere I looked I saw a new t-shirt and a new face, a new set of wide eyes, a new smile. I watched everyone marching, streams of cheers and chants (some nice, some funny, some . . . not so nice).
Yes, perhaps I abandoned my orientation group, but it was because that’s what I wanted to do. There is a special trick to orientation, and that is to recognize that the most important aspect is YOU. With so much going on at once, it can be easy to get lost in the fray, but never forget that this is your U of T!
As I watched, I became interested. I walked around campus and eventually found my way back to New College. Festivities were still in full swing, so I decided it was time to get involved. We ran obstacle courses on back-campus, ate hamburgers and pie, danced on a boat-cruise, danced at an awkward party, went out to a fraternity party, and a lot more that I can’t remember.
There are many shades to orientation week. I tried my best, but surely there is something that I missed. I’ve heard that orientation Leaders have the most fun, because they understand what it’s actually about.
It’s about being interested. U of T offers a new opportunity in every direction that you look. Orientation week is like a 100 level course in opportunity seizure, geared to spark your interest in university life.
There was a lot of talk and noise in 2009, but the real value lay in the quieter, interesting moments—the people I met, the places I explored, the things I remembered.
We are learning. We are students. It is your Orientation!
‘Til we meet again U of T, stay diamond!