Oberlin Blogs

Orienteering: A Guide to Your Oberlin Arrival

August 24, 2012

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

Look at this book! It is filled with things! Fun things! Amazing things! And it all starts on Tuesday.

First of all, really important things for you to note: I will be out and about all day. More than anything, I love to have people introducing themselves to me. Saying, “HEY you’re that girl from the blogs!” makes my whole day. But there are two bonuses to saying hi to me:

  • I will say hi back! Also bubble Oberlin at you. Also high five you and/or hug you regarding your excellent choice in college.

  • I will make you a STAHR.

How, you say? Here, I say:

Last year, I did some awesome guerilla social media stuff during orientation. I wanted to meet people, I wanted to talk about all the greatest Oberlin things ever, and I wanted to bridge that internet gap communication. I’m more than my profile pic, guys. So are you. Let’s be friends!

This year, I’m doing the same. So, here’s what I have to tell you: keep your Oberlin swag (bonus points for your class of 2016 shirt!) near the top of your packing this weekend. And keep your smiliest face on and get ready to be on video. I’ll be wearing a bright child’s backpack with an I ♥ Oberlin pin and a grey shirt with Oberlin written on it with maroon text and a nametag. Find me! It’s real life Where’s Waldo, for serious. (And if you’re scared of how to say my name, try my-YAWN and you’ll be pretty darn close.)

Okay, now that that fun announcement is out of the way, let me tell you all about these cool things to do in the coming week.

The Official:

The orientation guide (you don’t need to print it out, there’s a copy in your welcome packet) is amazing. There are a series of required things that you shouldn’t miss, not just cause they’re mandatory but because they’re a really awesome introduction to this place and all we do here.

  • Move in. This is step one. I feel like this step is the one you new Obies need the least amount of advice about. The only thing I have to add about this is that it’s okay if you don’t have anything the second you arrive here. Most everything you need for your dorm room can be purchased in town, and whatever you can’t, it’s just a car trip or an online shopping click away.

  • Pick up your registration packet. There’s info about your advisor (yay!) and registering for classes (double yay!). While you’re up there in Carnegie, you should also drop by the resource fair.

  • Residential Experience, Parts I and II. Both on Friday, both a great introduction to your new space and living standards.

  • Opening session. It’s the first time you’ll be doing something together as a class. It’s a time for celebration! President Krislov and Dean Chermonte (she’s the reason y’all are here, thank her afterwards if you want) will be there to welcome you all.

  • Essential Details About Your Oberlin Education and the partnering faculty panel on Making the Most of Your Oberlin Education. Yeah, it’s a really early start time, but hearing from these hot-shots when I was a first year was a really great introduction to what I was about to undertake over the next four years.

  • The Honor System. We’re an honorable bunch, and we take the honor code very seriously at Oberlin. This session going to teach you all about it. I graduated two years ago and I can still recite the honor code by heart. You’ll get a lot of practice writing and signing it in the next few years, this session is just an intro.

  • Many Voices/Building Community. One of two required evening sessions, this one is all about the “opportunities and challenges that arise on our diverse and dynamic campus.” This is just a fancy way of saying that a panel of current students are gonna tell it like it is when it comes to being a part of the Oberlin family. Sounds formal and stiff, but trust me, it’s really informative and helpful.

  • The OC. The second of two required evening sessions, this one’s all about the ins and outs of college life. The skits, put on by your RAs/HLECs, may seem a bit silly (I distinctly remember a song about beer from mine… and the person singing was dressed like a giant beer can. What.) but actually, it breaks the ice and makes it easier to start talking about serious life stuffs with a touch of humor.

  • Advising Sessions. There are two important things that fall under the advising sessions. The first is the group advising session with your academic ambassador (plug: Yay! I love them, you should too!) and the related lunch session afterwards is 120% worth your time. You can ask all the questions ever. You can learn about winter term. You can find out what professors are awesome. The second is your individual advising session with your academic advisor, which is the precursor and followup to the best and craziest part of orientation…

  • Course registration!! This is simultaneously going to be awesome and terrifying at the same time (that’s a combo I actually love and live for…). If you’ve come in with some AP, college, or transfer credits, you’ll be registering a bit earlier than some of your classmates. Unfortunately, that means that if you’re at the end of registration, you may not end up in all the classes you want immediately. You can go on and cry to your academic ambassador (or whichever one will be around during your registration time) or you can proactively email profs to get on a waitlist (this is the preferred option, though the ambassadors are happy to be a shoulder to cry on). So many switches happen — for everyone, not just first-year students — during add/drop, you’ll end up in your ideal or one class off of an ideal schedule by the end of it. Don’t worry. You will end up in classes and you will enjoy them.

The Orienteering:

  • Wander. A lot. There’s a handy-dandy map in your orientation guide, my student assistant Dan has been making some helpful posters y’all should look out for around campus, and don’t be afraid to get lost. Oberlin’s not too big a place. I didn’t visit Oberlin before orientation, so I spent the first week on campus walking around, just getting used to this place (I fell in love that week. This place, folks, this place). I got to know this place by putting the miles in, mostly at night. This place is gorgeous at night.

  • Day of Service. Best day of orientation by far. I don’t need to go into detail cause I already wrote about it. But just do it.

  • The Free Store. Okay, so, I love things that are free and I love things that are awesome. The free store is both these things. I helped them organize and sort into their newly renovated space earlier this summer, and they are so so ready for orientation. Visit them, just to see what’s up, or to get some free things for your room! They’ve got a few open hours during orientation, check your orientation guide.

  • Posters. Look at as many of them as possible. Not just the awesome ones Dan made, but all of them. They tell you things! It’s your best way to learn what’s happening when.

  • The co-ops. Since they’re not too active food-wise during orientation, familiarize yourself with their locations and befriend people who are eating in them so you have excuses to go back later in the semester.

  • Library tours. They’re awesome because you will learn about how to get things done in libraries and they will give you free things if you go on your tours. Specifically sweet mugs, and everyone loves things that can hold hot beverages.

  • GO OUT AND DO THINGS. This is in caps and bold because it is Very Important. My only kicking-myself-for-not-living-up-to-Oberlin-expectations moment was my lack of going out and doing things during my first year. I hung out with amazing people, but mostly in dorms. Friends and community are mad important, but those things can occur around happenings, too. Try it out. I found that I made a whole other set of amazing pals just because I started attending stuff. So great.

  • Talk to people. Really, do it. Upperclassfolks will be able to give you the low-down on many many things, including but not limited to the best professors, classes, places to eat, how to buy books, hang posters… And don’t worry, we all have our streaks of unabashed social awkwardness. Embrace it. We’re Obies, after all.

The Fun:

Oh goody. This is my favorite part. This is where I get to tell you all the amazing things no one has told you about. Or maybe they have and I’m just going to reinforce them.

  • Go to a lot of concerts. There are three during orientation proper, but they pick up like crazy as school start. Perhaps a more accurate description of this would be seek out music. There’s much much more of that happening throughout the week, since there are auditions for everything. Take advantage of them.

  • Talk to a lot of people. I know I said it above, but this is one of the last times you’ll be able to chill on campus in the beautiful weather with lots of people without the stress of classes (that is, unless you stay for commencement). This is prime bonding time. Say yes to hanging out. Sleep can wait.

  • Follow the food. Food means conversation, food means people. There are a lot of get-togethers and community meals during orientation.

  • Find me. I’m gonna make you a star, remember?

OKAY. I’ve got a long weekend of exciting preparation ahead of me, you have an exciting weekend of packing and traveling. Here’s a blog about Oberlin anthems and a Spotify playlist of music from last year if you need something to jam to… Enjoy! And see you Tuesday!

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