Being born and raised in Erie my entire life, I thought that college was the perfect opportunity to expand and move somewhere far away. I knew that I wanted to live in a place that contributed to my major, so I set my eyes on New York City. Little did I know of all the different people I would meet and witness. There are people all around the country and world who go there who I would never see in Erie. This includes the people who go to my school, which is why it made orientation so much more intimidating, yet thrilling. Here are some pieces of advice about orientation that are based on my own experience last year!
During freshman orientation, schools mix you in a huge crowd and hope you will instantly make connections that will last. A lot of times what we do not realize is that this is the first day to cultivate wonderful friendships that can maybe last forever. During my orientation, I met a lot of people outside of my major but after that first week, I made the mistake of never talking to them again. If we saw each other in passing we would say hello, but it was not like we had a great friendship like I had with the people within my major. Don’t judge people based on their major. I think the main reason as to why I did not reach out to these people during the year is because they looked down on my major so much. Many people thought that I was silly for doing what I do when in reality, they are equally as silly for majoring in criminal justice, nursing, or advertising. Each student gets to make their own decision on what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Basically, something that brings someone happiness when they are taking part in it. Your niche, if you will. It’s not fun being friends with someone who does not support what you love. Orientation is actually a great time to learn about other students’ majors and get to know their unique, individual passions and goals! You’d be surprised at all of the different majors there are. Be ready to receive and give welcome from everyone with open arms!
Truth is, each college student should make an effort to “hype” each other up and this is what orientation is all about! This is such an essential time in a student’s life and it is important to give encouragement. Everything is changing so fast and often that empty feeling can come in your gut. It is vital to know that you are NOT alone! The first week can have an emotional toll on people. We know that our futures are at stake while also trying to stay involved with times and each other. There are many faculty, staff and upperclassmen students who want to ensure that your first week goes smoothly and that you feel welcome here at Gannon.
Also, I think it is important to try to make connections with people before you get there! Doing this will make the experience for you easier if you jump in the pond with someone else to be there with you. Lastly, be willing to stand out! You are going to be meeting so many new people and why not start fresh with who you really are.
The moment I got on the highway to school I immediately felt my stomach drop. That is when I realized that this was real life. I was leaving the place that is so dear to my heart to start a whole new life. I had to take a few deep breaths and just live in the moment. I was going to say goodbye to my family for a long time and did not want that lingering over my head. I appreciated and took in the nine hours in the car that it took to get there. Once I got to my college, I was so overwhelmed but excited, like the feeling right before you drop on a rollercoaster. There was so many people everywhere trying to move their entire life into one little room.
A month before I left for school, my “big” was assigned to me and she had reached out to me via social media. We then found out that she was actually going to be the RA on my floor. This gave me a sigh of happy relief. Little did I know that she was the person who would complete my college experience and honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without her my first year. When my mom and I walked into my dorm building to check in, my big and I shared eye contact and ran across the hall to give each other a huge, welcoming hug. I knew I could trust her. Then it was time to move all of my things into my new home for the next year.
I opened my door and was sooo ready to transform this little room into my own. With all my matching decor I got before coming, I was excited to become my own interior designer for my sweet sanctuary. Before I even got to unpack my clothes, my school had so many plans for freshmen that we were required to participate in. This is when the mingling started. I made the mistake of not trying to connect with anyone before I got there because I was too shy, and this is where I started to feel nauseous and distressed. I had to be my own person and introduce myself to these people (which is totally out of my comfort zone). I did end up meeting a lot of new people, some people even came up to me to introduce themselves, which made glow on the inside! It was also great to find people with my same major that had a lot of the same interest as I did.
Once they gave us enough time to meet each other, there was of course welcome games, ice breakers, and presentations that we had to take part in. This was just another point during orientation that rattled me a little. This is a brand new group of people, and I was so afraid of what people would think of my first impression. Then I participated in a talent competition and just did not care what other people thought because I was just being me. The real, genuine, raw me. My entire 2022 class gave me a thunderous applause and after that, a lot of people came up to me to talk to me, which made me blessed that everyone was so outgoing and approachable! This is when I started to truly get comfortable with this situation.
Finally, it was time for the hardest part; saying goodbye to my family. During the activities, my parents helped me unpack into my dorm. Then when the activities were done, I met them in my room. They hooked up my television and wifi and it was time. They walked with me downstairs, and I could not keep it together. This had to be one of the first times that I saw both of my parents cry. There is nothing more heartbreaking than this moment, especially if you are close with your parents, but every college student has to go through it. Once I finally said goodbye, the most monumental moment was watching them drive away. I knew it was the inception of being on my own and it was the start of something so spine-chilling, yet beautiful.