TEEN

The Secret Life Of College Orientation

07/17/2013 01:48 pm ET
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This article was written by teen reporters from The Mash, a weekly publication distributed to Chicagoland high schools.

By Ellie Papadakis

On July 1st I went on an adventure. Well, I actually went to freshman orientation at the University of Missouri. I had no idea what to expect. In the back of my mind, I was still in the high school mentality.

I stayed in the dorms overnight—that was an experience in itself. I was lucky enough to have my own dorm room because the person I was partnered with never showed. Still, I didn’t have a built-in orientation buddy like everyone else seemed to have.

At the end of the day, I returned to an empty room. I wanted to talk to someone about the silly fears and worries that had popped up throughout the day.

More than that, I needed someone to drag along to the pizza parties that Mizzou hosted each night. I didn’t want to look like a loner standing alone in the corner.

Other than the MIA roomie, my first impression of college was that community living (especially dorm bathrooms) would definitely take some getting used to.

Don’t get me wrong, the bathrooms were very clean, but I realized that I need to take full advantage of my own room and bathroom before I have to share with everyone else on my hall floor.

I also experienced culture shock outside of the dorms. You know how at most high schools there’s a handful of really peppy kids who carry the school’s spirit? Well, it’s not the same in college.

At Mizzou, it seemed like everyone carried that spirit and pride for their school. As far as I could tell, every student knew Mizzou’s fight song and the Alma Mater. They weren’t afraid to act silly and support their fellow Tigers.

I still don’t know the fight song, but I’m sure I’ll have it memorized after the first few football games.

I also found out a lot about myself while I was at orientation. I have this oppressed sense of wanderlust. I want to see different places, meet new people and experience a little adventure. When I was choosing my college, I decided to go somewhere that I wouldn’t know anyone. That way, I knew I’d experience something new.

There’s just one problem with that: I always forget how shy I am.

In high school, everyone knows everyone, so it’s easy to talk to people. Now I’m going to a college where the freshman class is bigger than the population of my hometown.

I was overwhelmed with all the new faces I saw at orientation. Everyone was very friendly—typical Midwest charm—but I regret not talking to more people and not attending to those Mizzou pizza parties.

From now on, I am making it a goal to be more outgoing while I’m away.

I think it really hit me when I finally received my school ID card: I’m going to college next year. I won’t see the friends I’ve seen every day for the last 12 years. This is a brand new book with tons of blank pages.

By the end of orientation, I was ready to go home. That worried me a little bit, but I was exhausted. Orientation at Mizzou was more like a crash course introduction to college life.

Still, the two days I spent in Columbia, Missouri, made me excited about my future. I’m going to have to put myself out there next year. Joining clubs, forming strong relationships with my professors and creating bonds with new friends—those are all things that will help me get ahead in the “real world,” for which college, as they say, is a stepping stone.

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