A Place Becomes A Home

We all have defining moments in our lives that we can look back on and appreciate what has come from them. My defining moment is when I decided to attend Queen’s University and become involved in the ASUS Orientation Week. When applying to universities, I never realized how much my undergraduate school would have an effect on me. I wasn’t one of those people who identified with their high school or even really had a connection to it. Since it was a small school and didn’t have much spirit, Queen’s was a major change for me. Students all around me were oozing tri-colour spirit and I wanted to absorb as much of it as I could. The community at Queen’s was a whole new world for me and I didn’t know where to begin to get acquainted with it. However, my uncertainty changed when I was given the opportunity to become involved in Orientation Week. This is how Queen’s became my home.

Totally Lost Frosh

I would say that I first became involved during first year when I participated in Orientation Week. Prior to coming to Queen’s, I was shy and reserved when first meeting someone. This was until I got to know you--then all bets were off. However, there really wasn’t room to be shy when chanting out cheers and hip thrusting across campus. Participating in O-Week pulled me out of my shell and motivated me to become more open to who I was as a person. With becoming more comfortable with myself, I was beginning to become the person who put herself out there and was open to new experiences. O-Week introduced me to a loving community within Queen’s. From my frosh group (Kim Froshible), I began to build my support system of people, a few of whom are still good friends of mine today and have continued to be by my side throughout my Queen’s adventure. Overall, the week brought me many memories and opened a door to where I would find my place at Queen’s. My Gaels motivated me to apply to become a Gael myself, as they saw something within me that I began to see as well.

Photo by StudioQ​

Shaking My Tail Gael

Experiencing O-Week through the position of a Gael wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. I didn’t think there would be a great difference from the previous year, as I had participated in O-Week previously as a frosh, but wow was I ever wrong.  Foremost, I was lucky to be put in an amazing Gael Fam (Post Malowen and the Rockstar Gaels) and was introduced to some wonderful friends. Friends of whom I danced the night away with and an OC (Orientation Coordinator) who was always there when I need advice. Being a Gael grew my support system at Queen’s and allowed me to recognize more friendly faces around campus. Upon receiving my first years (Suite Life of Frosh) with my co-gael, who is a sweetheart, was unlike any other feeling. My co-gael and I were their first real introduction to Queen’s and a resource to help create long-lasting connections. Each of my first years has a special place in my heart, as corny as that sounds, and seeing how they've grown warms my heart. Through the experience of being a Gael, my appreciation for Queen’s grew. The entire week, I was continuously sharing tri-colour spirit and exclaiming why Queen’s is a place to call home. As I became captivated by the ‘Cha Gheill’ energy, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to O-Week. Thus, I applied to be a Socio-Cultural Orientation Coordinator and continued the O-Week extravaganza for a third year.

Photo by Erica Labriola​

Toasty OC

As Emma Pitchard (ACS Chair ‘19) said to me while I was a Gael, “[O-Week] gets even better the third time around," and this proved to be very true. It’s difficult to put into words the experience of being a Socio Orientation Coordinator. From beginning as a first year to becoming a Gael, I had no inkling of what went into creating O-Week for the incoming class. Almost an entire year of planning (more so blood, sweat, and tears) goes into creating the O-Week events and ensuring everything runs smoothly when the incoming class arrives. Having the opportunity as an OC, once again, introduced me to so many amazing people who all mean so much to me. Many of them are going to do incredible things in this world and I am thankful to have met them. Additionally on the OC committee were my beautiful Mambo No. Gr8 Gaels. I couldn’t be more proud of or thankful for the 10 inspiring individuals who made up my Gaels. Each of them were exceptional mentors to their first years and I couldn’t imagine better people to welcome the incoming class of 2023. Along with these extraordinary people, came unforgettable memories. Never would I have imagined that I would help set up hundreds of tables in a thunderstorm at 4am or stand high upon a scaffolding, watching the incoming class do their year dance. Moments like these reminded me that I made the correct decision in coming to Queen’s and how thankful I am to have a home here because of O-Week.

Photo by Denise Nicolaou​

Finally Home

In all three years of being involved in the ASUS Orientation Week, Queen’s has felt more and more like home. Furthermore, O-Week has taught me so many valuable things that I will carry on for years to come. I learned to always be yourself from the beginning until the end. To connect with others as much as you can--we can discover so many new things from each other! To have a positive outlook and continue to have joy and curiosity about the world around us. Lastly, to be free and have fun! Get up and dance whenever you feel the music move you! Say hello and start a conversation with someone new! Go out there and try new things! Most importantly, GET INVOLVED! As a result of getting involved, I received a place to call home. There are no words to describe the feeling of being involved in something very special and giving back to the community around you. You connect with many people and make a difference, big and small, in the lives of others. O-Week has opened up my eyes to so many new perspectives and given me more joy and love than I can ever express. The end of my chapter has come; however, O-Week will always have a special place in my heart and has given me memories that I will cherish forever. Thank you for everything.

Photo by Ally Caston​