On September 12, 2012, every student at the University of Maryland came out to the tables on McKeldin Mall to show how much students participated outside the classroom. The First Look Fair was an annual event held on the Mall for students to come out, see what organizations the University offered, and get invoved! Here I am, a wide- eyed freshman thinking that there is no time to participate in anything other than a late night study session at the library because of the amount of work given in college was too extensive to do anything else- but the First Look Fair proved me wrong. Hundreds of students were outside on this hot day to get freshman, like myself, interested in something bigger than schoolwork and deadlines.
To me, it looked like all 27,000 undergraduate students were present and the organizations only purpose in life was to get you to write your email address on a piece of paper. It was so crowded and there were so many people crowded on the sidewalks zigzagging across the mall- I just assumed it was the entire student body. Coming from a high school where we had a similar event called “club rush”, I was expecting the same type of crowd present at UMD. However, the clubs featured at the First Look Fair went beyond anything I had ever been involved in in high school.
“This is very overwhelming,” Becca Faunce, freshman Marketing major, said as she stared at the intimidating number of tables sprawled along the mall. “I don’t want to miss out on anything.”
Walking through the rows of clubs was much like walking down a crowded street in a city, people were offering you things that you weren’t quite sure what they were. Someone even asked me if I had ever heard of the “Vagina Monologues” and the volume she said “vagina” made me blush instantly. There was no shame though, everyone was there with a purpose and that was to get people like me to be a part of the organization they felt so strongly about.
Some groups really did catch my eye and I was looking forward to being a part of them. I put my email on about 10 lists and I only regret it now when the emails do not seem to stop.
“I am really interested in joining the club Students Helping Honduras,” freshman Government and Politics major Sarah Horowitz said. “The idea of going to Honduras over the winter and building a school sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity, but there is so much to see at the first look fair.”
It was difficult choosing which row to walk down next because there were so many to choose from, but I knew I took a wrong turn when someone asked me, “Do you enjoy the sweet sounds of Satan?” All of a sudden I developed a large interest in my phone and kept walking. It was a lot for a freshman to take in, but I was loving the exposure to all the activities- some guy even complimented me on my shoes!
My first First Look Fair was an entirely pleasant experience, other than the fact that I was wearing long sleeves and it was about 90 degrees outside. To future freshmen, I would advise them to sign up for whatever fits their interests because everyone says getting involved in clubs will be the best thing in the future. Be sure to check the weather before leaving the house, short sleeves are recommended!
Photo Credit: Phoebe Dinner at UMD’s First Look Fair 2012