I've been in Oberlin for three weeks now, long enough to have grown acclimated to the slow pace and solitude of summertime in a college town. The freshmen, as well as a great many upperclassmen, arrived this past week, and watching them meander about campus has brought back some mixed memories from my orientation experience.
Being at Oberlin without something to do is a strange and perverse feeling. Idleness hovers thick and fog-like, a shroud around your central purpose for being here, which is of course to pack every waking moment with enriching activity, be it educational or otherwise. During orientation I found that I had nothing to do and was just waiting for orientation to be over. I wanted classes to start. I find ice cream socials abhorrent in the best of circumstances--"Hey, I'm Will. Nice to meet you. So, uh, is that chocolate?" Most friendships made during orientation are ephemeral, formed less out of common interest than of common need--specifically, the need to disappear into a group for a little while until this unfamiliar place becomes familiar. 80% of the people I met in the first week of college I barely saw again, ultimately just becoming a list of facebook friendships whose film screenings I was "maybe attending."
But, of course, the other 20%, including my freshman-year roommate, became friendships that I kept and treasured. I suppose it's mostly the sight of freshmen walking around Tappan Square looking forlorn and listless that sets off my mini-tirade. (And, as someone who walks around looking forlorn and listless all the time, I can't help but feel as though they're stealing my act.) Some people really enjoy orientation. God love 'em. For those of you wondering what the hell's going on, taking multiple trips from your dorm to Gibson's simply to while away the hours and imbue your day with a little bit of purpose, hang in there. Things get a lot better once school is underway, and once you get some roots planted here you'll never feel purposeless again.