4 Days, 12 Hours, 8 Minutes and 32 Seconds…31…30…: 2011 Orientation is Imminent!

Thinking back to my first-year orientation now it's all a bit of a blur. I stayed up late, woke up early and stumbled through events with a dazed look on my face and my hand permanently attached to a caffeinated beverage. It was exciting, overwhelming, exhausting and fun all at the same time. As a returning student, I always enjoy orientation as a way to revamp my commitment to school and classes. Especially as someone who lives off-campus, it's a great reminder that U of T has a huge, spirited community, and because of it's sheer size, there's always something new to explore. Back to first year: I was lucky. During orientation I met the people who would become my best friends, my roommates, my travel companions and my part-time therapists. But after orientation, I still didn't exactly feel "oriented." I just felt happy that I was making it from one day to the next and managing to keep myself fed, clothed and showered all the while... So if, even after you're "oriented" you still feel completely freaked out and unprepared... Don't worry about it. You're never going to feel ready for the next step in you're life, sometimes you just have to take it, see where it leads, and do your best to figure out what you need to know along the way. (And keep in mind that even long after orientation week help is still out there.) But in the meantime here are a few events not to miss next week through UTSU orientation. 1. CLUBS DAY. Next Wednesday from 10am-2pm in Hart House Circle. Every year, tons and tons of students cram into Hart House Circle to check out the hundreds of clubs, associations, publications and committees that exist at U of T. (And, usually there's cotton candy.) Although I'll be working at a booth this year instead of flitting about freely as I did back in my first year, I'm still hoping that there will be some cotton candy.This is one of the easiest times to browse clubs because it's probably the only time all year that you'll be able to chat with members as you browse and sign up on the spot. 2.UTSU Parade. Next Friday starting at 2pm at Front Campus Field. OK this is when things start getting really real. If you attend, be ready for some major crowds, and lots of shouting. This is a great place to go if you need to re-charge your U of T pride, or you just want to see some yelling through a mega-phone. 3. Orientation Concert. Next Friday starting at 3pm at Back Campus Field. I saw Tokyo Police Club play a set there in first year and it pretty much rocked my world. This year, Sam Roberts Band and Land of Talk will be taking the stage. This is just the first taste you'll get of the amazing art and culture that's available to you in this city. And if you're an upper-year student, this is an awesome opportunity to see a couple of great bands FOR FREE.

And If That's Not Enough, Here are a Few More Tips to "Orienting" Yourself

But before I get to those, I just want to mention that if traditional orientation isn't really your scene, don't fret. (To be honest, I wasn't really into my college's programming. I went to the first day of activities and checked out UTSU's offerings, but my personal orientation consisted of getting into a heavy art talk at a U of T football game and taking off with a few girls to talk about Gustav Klimt in Yorkville.) The bottom line is that everyone's different. Everyone's U of T experience is going to be a little bit different, and that's what makes U of T awesome. So, FYI, that there's an orientation for new international students, there's Queer Orientation, and the Kickstart program. Alright! Onto my *BONUS* tips! 1. Check out the map and go on an independent walking tour of the campus. Gauge how long it takes you to get from one side of the campus to the other. (Keep in mind that once the snow starts falling, you should add 5-10 minutes to your travel time.) Print out a physical map to carry around with you. (I swear that I got lost at least three times in my first week of classes!) 2. Go to a library workshop. And this applies to everyone, in every year of study. You don't know how much you don't know about how to conduct research and how to make research-intensive papers a million times easier on yourself. Especially check out one about RefWorks. I promise you, this is going to save you so much time later on. (Believe me! I know from experience!) 3. Read the online resources that U of T has for you. Read life.utoronto.ca, and browse Ulife. It's a small thing, but familiarizing yourself with the services available to you is really important. Now that I'm going into fourth year, I keep retroactively discovering things like the Academic Success Centre that would have been really helpful back in first year, second year, or even third year. 4. Pick up all of your school supplies, and organize your room BEFORE classes start. (Except for textbooks! Wait to get those until AFTER courses begin.) Once you get into the grind, you won't have time to organize, so try and get everything set even before you march into that first day of classes. Good luck everyone! Cheers to fall, cheers to the new year, and cheers to a fresh start!

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