Being Young: Orientation from the other side

Second year of university easier

By Marlowe Evans

Being Young columnist

It’s back to school season again, but this year is different for me than other back-to-schools.

I’m going into my second year of university and while I’m staying in residence again, I’m no longer a wide-eyed first year student. Now, I’m helping the new first years to orient themselves into their new home (literally).

Universities across Canada have Orientation or Frosh Week. It’s a week of activities, competitions, and events designed to help first year students settle into life at school.

Last year, as I went through O Week, as it’s known at the University of New Brunswick, I got to know my dorm, the layout of campus and also some amazing new friends. I wanted the first years, this year, to have that same amazing experience, so I applied to be on the house orientation committee.

Now that I am known as an HOC, my job is to make sure that the first years feel welcome and have an amazing time, just as my HOCs did for me last year.

Over the course of this week, we Neill House Knights have been competing against other university residences to win O Cup, the ultimate Orientation Week prize. We’re doing well so far! (Knock on wood.)

As the week’s gone by, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been involved in plenty of leadership roles, but this one feels different, and I believe it feels different for a specific reason: I’m on the other side of the curtain.

Last year, experiencing O Week, I had no idea half of what was going on behind the scenes. Returning to Orientation Week, from the perspective of a student leader, is entirely different.

As I’ve grown older and started to manage events I enjoyed when I was younger, I’ve gained some valuable perspective on what it means to be a leader.

I remember so fondly how my O Week HOCs worked to make my first week at school memorable. I was scared I’d be homesick, but I wasn’t. I learned within two days that Neill House was my home away from home.

During commencement, I actually cried, not because I was sad, but because I was so excited. A video was played after the speeches were given, and at the end, it said very simply, “Welcome to UNB. We’ve been waiting for you.” It was at that moment that I knew I made the right choice.

This year, being one of the people planning and executing the activities that I enjoyed last year, I’m trying to make sure that all of the first years in the house get that same moment when, even though it’s scary to be away from home, something clicks into place.

The other HOCs and I, along with our house team (proctors), have had a lot of early mornings and late nights this week, but I’d have it no other way. I wake up tired, but as soon as I see the first years, I’m awake and ready to go.

My voice is hoarse from cheering, but I’ll cheer more before the week’s out.

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