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Nate on How to Orientate

Oh, Orientation Week. The very first time you’re finally on you own as a student. Parents have left you with a roomful of organization equipment, and maybe a care package of cookies and ibuprofen. The next couple of days are going to be filled with the bonding that only running, jumping, yelling, icebreakers and generally making a fool of yourself can give - that only Doane can give.

It’s more than that, though. It’s a celebration. If you were dying to get away from your parents, then this is what you came for. If you’re still a little homesick, then these few days are here for you to make new friends.

Orientation is your first time as a true college student. The people you meet make up your cohort with whom you’ll travel with the next four years. Some will become your best friends, some will be acquaintances, and some you won’t really see until you meet again, sitting in Cassel Theatre wearing caps and gowns.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though (easy to do when I’m next up this May to walk across Cassel to get my diploma.) Of course I wouldn’t be getting so excited if Doane hadn’t become such a large part of my life.  These last four years sometimes seem more important than all the ones that came before, and it started with Orientation.

What I really want to do is give some advice to the incoming class about Orientation. I’ve been here three years and I’ve noticed a few things (plus I’m an Orientation Leader):

1.  Go to all of the Orientation events.
This is rather an obvious one, and you’re going to hear it a lot when you get here. It’s important to remember that even if it doesn’t sound interesting, or if you think your new video game needs to be tested out, that this is only going to happen once. If you don’t go now, then you’re not ever going to be able to go back. The events are only a few hours at most. They are fun, and you’ll get free stuff, but most of all you have more to lose if you don’t go than if you do. Just show up, maybe it really isn’t your scene, but at least you knew for sure.

2.  Really try to get into it.
I’ve noticed that the people who have the most fun are the ones who get into Orientation the most. Don’t be intimidated by the craziness, or think you’re too cool to be running around. No one here is going to judge you. I -- along with many other Orientation Leaders -- will be more crazy than you can hope to be (that’s a challenge, by the way). If anyone is going to be judged it’s us, and that’s okay. If you feel pressure from your new friends to act “normal,” then ditch them. Like I said before, this is your one chance. Don’t let them take that away from you, and what do they know anyway? They haven’t done it before, and they’ve only been your friend a few days. They might not be your friend in a week.

3.  Don’t be afraid to love and lose.
That’s not really literal advice. It’s a much more elegant way to say not to be afraid of making new friends, especially if they don’t seem like someone that you would normally be friends with. You’re out of high school now, so get rid of all those notions of “weird,” “normal” and “popular.” They are useless in the real world, which is where you are now.  It’s time to judge people on character, and the sooner you start the better. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to ditch a friend who you thought was cool, but really turned out to be a jerk. Chances are you will make more and better friends. You’re not stuck with the first four people you meet.

4.  Be who you are.
This is less advice and more of a Public Service Announcement. College is a fresh start. Most people don’t know you. They don’t care about who you were, or what you think being “cool” means. They only care about who you are, so just be yourself. You’re going to find someone to be friends with, don’t worry, and those people will be better friends than anyone you’ve ever met before.

Make the most of Orientation week because you’ll get out as much as you’ll put in. It’s one of the rare moments that everyone shares. You’ve got all of the Orientation Leaders, along with your new classmates, to have fun with and support you.

Get excited! I know I am.
Get out there!
Enjoy yourself!
Most of all, welcome to Doane. You’re going to love it here, I guarantee it.

P.S. New students, if you need anything, come find me or any of the other OLs (Orientation Leaders).  We are here to help you make the transition. Whether it’s advice, or just someone to talk to, we are here for you.