Orientation as a Freshman

Hello, freshman reporting for duty here. I finished my orientation just last week and let me tell you; it wasn’t easy. It was, however, one of the best weeks of my life. orientation can be tricky, especially when you factor in going in without many friends and the Williamsburg humidity. So, I’ve put together a little survival guide for all my incoming freshman, whether you’re coming to W&M or not.

1. Don’t cake your face in makeup.

I know, it’s super tempting to want to put your best face forward when meeting people for the first time. But allow me to let you in on a little secret: in Williamsburg, where it is not only hot but also humid, that makeup will slide right off your face the second you step outdoors. This will also make you more likely to break out, which will make you want to put on more makeup… the cycle is vicious.  Quite a few girls in my hall with great skin broke out by day two of orientation, so just don’t do it. Put on some eye makeup and leave your face alone.

2. Do all the chants, no matter how dumb they might seem.

Everyone from my dorm rolled their eyes the first day at the chants, but by the end of orientation we were shouting them. They might seem ridiculous at first, but soon you’ll wish you were back in Kaplan shouting, “Tribe Pride!” at the top of your lungs.

3. Your Orientation Aides care about you...like so much.

In the beginning the OAs can seem so intimidating, especially considering the vast and seemingly unending amount of energy they all have. But they’re also people too, and not that much older than you. They really do have your best interests at heart. Those beautiful humans don’t get paid for the job, so all of them are OAs because they willingly gave up their time to help you transition. Don’t take them for granted, and don’t forget that they will be there for you always, even after orientation ends.

4. Don’t spend all your free time in your dorm.

I know it’s tempting after a long day of orientation to just stay in your dorm and not talk to anyone. But the first week at college can be an important one for making connections, and so it might be a good idea to be lazy with other people. Especially in the dorms without air-conditioning, all you have to do is sit in the lounge (the air-conditioned lounge!) and talk with the people you’ll be living with for the next year. Making new friends is awkward, but it is so worth it.

5. Ask people questions other than where they’re from and what they want to major in.

I don’t know how many times I told people where I was from and what I was planning on majoring in. Sure, it’s a great way to get to know people on a very surface level, but try asking more fun questions instead. Some examples are, “If you could go back to any time and place, where and when would you go to?” or, “If you could transport yourself into any book or movie world, which would it be?” or even, “What’s your favorite Disney Channel Original Movie?” I promise you’ll find out more interesting things about people this way.

6. Don’t worry too much about dressing cute. You’re living with these people for a year, so they’re going to see you in all sorts of conditions.

When making first impressions, everyone always wants to put their best face forward. But don’t worry about wearing that super cute dress and heels you just got. Treat orientation like one giant work-out; it’s going to be hot, and there will be much more walking than you are used to. Don’t put too much effort into your appearance, because all the people that you are seeing are probably the people from your dorm, where you will be living for a year. They will see you at your highs and your lows, so dress for comfort over style.

7. Orientation might seem like too much, but you’re going to miss it a lot.

Every freshman coming into college wants to just skip orientation and get right to the real college experience, but as many upperclassmen have told me already, they miss being a freshman. Orientation is a fun time, before classes and homework, to get to know your new possibly-lifelong friends. And while it might seem a little silly or exaggerated at times, without orientation, college would be ten times harder. So accept that you might have to embarrass yourself a few times by taking pictures for your mom and shouting chants, and remember that this is the start of the next few really great years.