This is it: the ‘Big September.’
Yes, every September is big for students because it’s a transition from the freedom of summer back to the more scheduled nature of school.
This September, however, is different – at least for people my age. This is our first September where we’re not going back to our regular school.
For some of us, the ‘Big September’ means being out in the workforce “for real,” for the first time. For others, it means university, or college. It can mean moving out on our own, away from our parents. In reality, the Big September is a time of change for all recent graduates. Everything is in flux. High school, while tumultuous for some, had a steady and familiar rhythm. We can find that rhythm again in whatever new occupation or place our Big September brings, but it may take some adjustment.
I’m definitely adjusting. My Big September isn’t ‘Big’ just because I’m starting university for the first time, or because I’m living in residence. It’s big because I’m starting university for the first time and living in residence in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I’m trying to find the rhythm of a new school, in a new province.
It’s going pretty well. The ‘Big September’ is always a great month to make new friends, whether it’s at a new job, or at a new school. It’s much easier to adjust to a new place when you’re surrounded by friends.
I’m finding it miraculously easy to adjust myself to my surroundings because Fredericton is remarkably similar to Maple Ridge in one important respect: the people are kind.
In Fredericton, like at home in Maple Ridge, there are always people who are kind enough to slow down and help you out (with directions, let’s say, because you thought you were an hour early for your class, when in fact you’re entirely in the wrong building and already 20 minutes late).
My new school, the University of New Brunswick, has been making a great effort to make my ‘Big September’ feel less frightening. I’ve been immersed in activities with other wide-eyed freshmen, mostly people from my residence, which is called Neill House.
Together, we laughed and cried competing against the other houses for the O Cup, the ultimate prize of our Orientation Week.
O-Week and the struggle for dominance in O Cup, really connected me to my peers. We screamed and cheered our loudest at Blast Off, a fireworks night on our first day of living on campus.
We ran around town frantically trying to complete missions for our scavenger hunt on the Goose Chase app (we almost won).
We cheered even louder than we did at Blast Off as we watched the Neill House President Reid Hall face-off against the Neville Jones House President Kevin McMackin in an ice-cream-eating contest. The matter of who won was a little bit fuzzy, but I can safely say that in Neill House, Reid is definitely considered the victor.
It takes considerable courage to eat ice cream out of a gutter. (Long story.)
We may not have won O Cup, but Neill House is still the best house in my opinion: if nothing else, we’re definitely courageous.
My best advice to other recent graduates casting away from home and out into the big wide world is to find yourself some good people. My good people came in the form of my classmates and my fellow Neill House Knights. But good people aren’t in short supply, whether you’re in Fredericton or in Maple Ridge.
The older kids who look after us, called HOC’s and Proctors, have been making sure we’re all still alive and not lost somewhere in the middle of campus. All my experiences during O-Week, shared with other kids who for the most part are also away from home for the first time, made my ‘Big September,’ or at least my first week of it, feel a little bit less ‘Big,’ and a little more like the beginning of something amazing.
Marlowe Evans is a student at the
University of New Brunswick from Maple Ridge who writes about youth issues.