You wake up on the morning of Thursday, August 27, 2015 experiencing an unfamiliar mix of pure excitement and justified nervousness. You roll out of bed to kick off what will be an unforgettable day, knowing that it marks the start of a once in a lifetime adventure. You throw your final possessions together at the last second and give your dog an extra special hug goodbye before leaving the house. You hop in the car and before you know it, you arrive at the place where you’ll spend the next few years exploring, learning, growing, and creating a new world for yourself.
As you drive through Misericordia's arch you are once again welcomed by energetic, enthusiastic upperclassmen in bright pink shirts, but this time it’s the real deal; it’s not a preview anymore. This is it. It’s the first day of college orientation. Is this really happening?
You reach your residence hall, and the scene is crazy. Anxious excitement settles in as you and your family are instructed to park the car and you anticipate joining the fun. It’s move-in time. You see the commuter students lining up to register, and you think about how they must have it so easy on move-in day – all they have to do is show up.
You quickly calm down when you open your the trunk and the friendly, pink-shirted strangers eagerly rush off with all of your belongings, thankfully delivering them to your dorm room. You are so happy that you listened when told to label all of your possessions with your name and room number because it made moving in so much easier. Okay, so far, so good.
Back at your dorm, there’s just enough time to move a few things around and meet your roommate. You really want to rearrange everything yourself because you’re finally on your own, but you kindly let your family help because you realize it might be hard for them to let you go. After some emotional exchanges with your loved ones, you throw on your new mint green orientation t-shirt and your nametag, and before you know it, you’re on your way to Convocation. Wow. How did this whole college thing happen so fast?
You hug your family and friends and join the hundreds of other new students lining up in the Wells Fargo amphitheater. As you find your place in a sea of mint green, you wave to your fan club sitting in the bleachers.
As the speaker begins her presentation, you realize that this is your official welcome into the college experience; you came this far, and this is your celebration.
You look around at your fellow classmates and are reminded that everyone is in the same boat as you. As the Convocation ceremony comes to an end and you head to the reception, you reflect on all of the advice about college that has been shared with you.
Reach out and meet new people every chance you can; the more people you know, the more doors you open. Get involved as soon as possible with things that interest you, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Keep your door open to welcome visitors. Communicate with your roommate and friends – nobody will know what’s on your mind if you don’t speak up. Introduce yourself to your professors, know when and where to find them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Read your textbooks before class. Stay on campus the first weekend of school. Keep in contact with your loved ones at home. Go to events on campus. Embrace opportunity, have fun, and remember who you are and from where you came.
With this advice in mind, you say goodbye to your loved ones and reality hits: you’re on your own. You look at your schedule to see what’s lined up for the rest of orientation – various introductions and presentations as well as unexpectedly fun activities are all listed on the agenda. You get excited as you venture out with the rest of your class to the next session. You say “hi” to another first-year student and begin to walk side-by-side, talking about the schedule of orientation events together. You smile, and you know you’re going to really like this place. This is it…I’m home.
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About the author: Tori Dziedziak '16 is a Psychology major and student orientation leader from Shenandoah, PA.