As summer comes to an end, first-year college students around America will be pumped through the exciting yet cringe-inducing process of college orientation. The event somehow walks the line between purgatory and platonic speed dating. Students spend excruciating hours sitting down for awkward seminars and icebreaker sessions. The three questions: “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?” and “Where are you living?” will be repeated millions of times until responses start sounding like they’re coming out of Siri. For some, orientation means newfound independence; for others, it is the gift of a blank canvas and a chance to start over. However, all feel the constant pressure to give off the right first impression to the right people.
Despite the superficial nature of the first days on campus, freshman orientation shouldn’t be something you float through. This is the only time in college where everyone is in the same social boat; everyone is looking for friends. The shared experience makes it easy to meet loads of people from different backgrounds and possibly make connections to last the next four years and beyond.
To get the most out of orientation, I recommend avoiding the following seven mentalities:
1. “This is so stupid.”
You’ve had nightmares based on posts on the accepted students Facebook page and now believe everyone is dorky, snobbish, and/or overexcited to a level that would make even Michael Scott cringe. You’re the only normal one here. Maybe it’s best to skip orientation altogether and lay low for a while.
Please. Not everyone will be straight outta Cringefest 2015. If you shut yourself out of orientation, you will miss opportunities to both find friends and learn how to navigate the complicated and often confusing Brown system. Although some events wont hurt to skip [Ed. Not that we’re condoning this], make sure you at least go to convocation, and learn the names of everyone on your floor.
2. “No parents! No rules!”
You’re free from the parents!!! Now is your time to GET WASTED!
Napoleon Bonaparte after a particularly enjoyable conversation at the orientation ice cream social, ca. 1812.
Listen up, First-Years.
As you arrive on campus you will be greeted with good wishes and encouragement. I was in your shoes only last year, so I remember those heady days well. But take my warning, friends, and do not let yourself be lulled into complacency, for hidden between the happy team-building activities lies the greatest battle of your life: The ice cream social.
“The Ice Cream Social?” You ask. “But that sounds like so much fun! Surely you are mistaken.”
I am not. To survive the evening of mingling and make-your-own-sundaes you must become a social warrior, raising a shield of vague responses as you charge through barrages of small-talk.
Agamemnon did not sail for Troy alone, and you should not show up at the social without a buddy. Pair up with your roommate, or anyone else that you already know a little bit. You and your roommate can cover for each other in group conversations by laughing at your own lame jokes and making references to your room (or any other commonality that you’ve already discussed). Battling through the social together is also a great way to bond with your roommate. Just ask the guys from Band of Brothers. [Ed. This might be a borderline exaggeration, but you’ll have to see for yourself!]
So, you’re going to college. Maybe you’re excited or #nervous, or a combination of the two. Don’t worry – BlogDH has you covered with some packing tips and advice for the terrifying/exciting/overwhelming prospect that is moving to college. After you gather all the essentials (twin XL bedding, shower shoes, a can-do attitude, etc.), here are some other things to consider bringing to campus (or leaving at home):
Things you will definitely need
- A fan is pretty essential for orientation and the first few weeks of the year, as it is still hot AF in Providence for the first half of September. Dorms do not have air conditioning, and the feeble, still-warm ‘breeze’ coming from your open window will be inadequate to keep you from waking up in an unfortunate you-shaped puddle of sweat every morning. Don’t worry – it cools down pretty quickly at the end of September into October, and you probably won’t need your fan again until maybe the final couple weeks of the year.
- Command hooks and mounting strips are super helpful for hanging decorations, towels, bulletin boards, and other items on your walls. With enough command strips and blind optimism, you can keep pretty much anything up, even a full-length mirror on a slightly sticky cinderblock wall.
- A bank card is useful for monthly expenses, shopping at the largest carpeted mall in America (has this tour fact ever been actually verified?), and when you run out of points and Bear Bucks because of too many before-4 p.m. Blue Room muffins. Make sure to check your bank has a convenient location in Providence. There will also be a banking fair during orientation where you can check out these options in greater depth.
- Cleaning supplies. Custodial Services cares for shared spaces, but not individual rooms. Please get and use them, for the sake of your roommate, or at least the night before Family Weekend. (Though you can probably wait until you get to campus to get these.) Odor-canceling spray is also great to have for spraying your comforter that you will probably never wash all year, and for the “Febreze walk-through” – spray mist in the air in front of you and glide on in. It’s a perfect ‘almost shower,’ a lazy, personal car-wash of sorts.
- Rain gear, including a rain jacket, boots, and loyal and iron-willed umbrella, are pretty essential for Lil Rhody weather. Despite how scenic and lovely the Main Green looks come Spring, it will rain this year, and water will seep into your clothes, body, and spirit. Also, while many people wait until Thanksgiving Break to bring up their winter clothes, Providence weather can also be fairly unpredictable, and there can be the occasional rogue snowstorm in October.
Manuel Contreras ’16 with First Lady Michelle Obama at the Beating the Odds summit this past Thursday.
On Thursday, July 23th, Manuel Contreras ’16 took to the White House as a panelist at this year’s “Beating the Odds” summit. Contreras — along with rapper Wale, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and E! Entertainment anchor Terrence Jenkins — spoke to an audience of over 130 college-bound students about their stories of and strategies for successfully transitioning to life at college. This conference marks the latest chapter of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, which encourages America’s youth to pursue higher education.
Contreras is one of the co-founders of 1vyG, an inter-Ivy first-generation college student organization that launched last year. The group focuses on providing a community for first-generation students to share their stories and “leverage their experience and education to better the world.” In February, 1vyG hosted a three-day conference — the first of its kind — with over 250 students from across the country at Brown.
The summit can be viewed here. For more about Contreras’s story, check out this post published by the First Lady on Medium.
April 2013 Rally
After a two year study, RISD’s Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to “divest their endowments direct investments in fossil-fuel extraction company stocks and bonds.” The RISD community got an email sharing the news this morning, once more affirming that our artsy cousins down the hill are always one step ahead. The full email, sent by Michael Spalter, chair of the Board of Trustees and shared by the Divest RISD campaign Facebook page, is posted below. Congratulations to everyone who worked on the Divest RISD campaign!