How to Navigate Orientation Week with a Disability

So it’s orientation week, and you feel like you don’t know where to begin. There are so many new experiences ahead of you, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Take a breath, and read ahead. Get out of your comfort zone For many, it may feel like just finding the will to go is hard enough. For me, it was the last-minute uncertainty and anxiety creeping up the night before that made me want to spend the day in bed with my Netflix. As much as your brain might try to convince you otherwise, you’re taking a big step by finding the initiative to go. And after that… well, you’re there anyway, might as well have some fun! Try involving yourself in activities that make you feel a bit nervous, to overcome the apprehension that surrounds them. Immerse yourself in a giant crowd. Play some wacky games. Grab a drink (or two). It’s completely okay to embrace the unfamiliar. Don’t be scared to ask for help This is a big one, because a lot of us feel that we’re inconveniencing others when we voice our concerns. This couldn’t be more wrong. The volunteers and various group leaders are there to help you enjoy yourself as much as possible, while being safe about it. As a student with a disability, you might need some sort of accommodation, and it’s entirely recommended that you get in touch with an organizer to see if they can help you out. This is meant to be an inclusive experience, and everyone will work hard to see that you’re feeling great.  Explore your surroundings No one wants to be that flustered student who runs into the first, jam-packed lecture hall ten minutes late, turning heads in the process. Take some time during your orientation week to explore the nooks and crannies of campus. Print a copy of your schedule and walk from building to building, finding hidden study spots and natural treasures. The campus can feel absolutely enormous at times. Knowing what you’re in for ahead of time is a great way to calm some of the nerves you might have about starting school. Talk to EVERYONE You never know who you’re going to connect with! Without a doubt, your orientation week is one of the best ways to meet new people. Talk to anyone who looks friendly, which won’t be hard to do, because everyone is in the same shoes as you. They’re all nervous, yet willing to get to know each other, so don’t be afraid to approach a stranger and get to chatting. If you’re not a social butterfly, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to make the most of out of your week. Talk to your orientation leaders and see if they have any advice for you on what activities you would like best. Know what your limit is Stepping out into the unknown can be exciting, but it’s equally important to take a breather when you feel overwhelmed. Take some time away from all the activity to rest and recharge. Schedule a date with yourself so you can reflect on your goals, and mentally prepare for the year ahead. I can’t say this enough; you know yourself best. If any activity makes you feel a little queasy, it’s perfectly okay to step aside and regroup. After all, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable in your surroundings. Don’t lose hope If your orientation week doesn’t go as you planned, don’t let it get you down. You’ve got the whole year ahead of you to connect with your newfound friends, and even make more in your classes. You’re heading for a significant year, you’re going to learn and try and fail and try again. Don’t try to blend in. You’re great just the way you are. pic of people jumping with welcome sign in the background

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