Last week, we dropped my little brother off for his Freshman Orientation. I wore my Oberlin Chemistry/Biochemistry t-shirt in an effort to deflect attention away from me. It wouldn't have been the first time that I was mistaken as the younger one. In fact, once in conversation, someone who'd known my family for some time suddenly realized that I was the older one, a fact that had never occurred to him before. I think it was my repeated references to college that finally prompted him to catch on.
Of course, my t-shirt-wearing efforts failed. My brother was off somewhere--probably getting more lemonade--while I remained with my parents. It was at this point that the leader of the orientation decided to approach us. It quickly became clear that she thought I was the incoming freshman. We corrected her, she read my shirt, and eventually all was well again.
The shirt didn't really serve its purpose, though.
Nevertheless, the day got me thinking about my own Freshman Orientation. To be honest, I don't remember much of it, except that I was glad when it was over--I was ready for classes to start. I'm not one for sitting around without deadlines looming over my head for very long. The first few weeks of summer, in particular, make me feel antsy.
Not that Orientation was necessarily bad. For one thing, all the scheduled activities provided the perfect opportunity for my roommate and me to wander aimlessly around campus trying to figure out how to get from one place to another. And, yes, we did eventually learn to find our way around the campus all on our own.
So that was good. And probably the advice that everyone gave us at all the required meetings was good. I don't remember most of it, but that's good for all the incoming freshmen out there reading this right now--you won't have to hear it all repeated again. (I lied. There is one piece of advice that I clearly remember. Go to the library tours, for all the libraries you think you'll use. I went to the tour of Mudd. I did not go to the tour of the Con's library. Guess which library I look more clueless in, every time I enter it?)
But mainly what I remember about Orientation was trying to figure out how to relate to everyone else. There's an awkward period where you're not sure who's going to be your friends yet, and so you try to hang out with everyone and be extra perky. For me, I'd been in the same school district and around the same people since kindergarten. It was hard starting all over again among all these people I didn't know.
But you know what? Looking back now, Orientation is just a little blip in my time at Oberlin. In the end it didn't really matter what weird first impressions I made on people. I still found friends. I still figured out how to fit into a new environment.
And now? Now I'm ushering my brother off to his first year of college and looking forward to my final year. Here's hoping it'll be a good one.