Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Pre-freshmen are Here

Sigh, first I must express my odium for the construction on the dorm across the street from me. They start sometime between 7:00am and 7:30am, and work Monday through Saturday. This means I can almost never get enough hours of sleep as I tend to go to bed after 1:30am at the very earliest. Today it sounded like they were breaking glass (which they probably were, destroying the windows). I got up around 7:30am and put my ear buds in my ears, hoping to dampen the construction noise. Didn't do much. So I just got out of bed around 8:15am. I was not happy.

For a while I walked around campus, rather aimlessly. I then settled and sat under a tree in the very heart of central campus. I sat at one of the benches and read more of Xenocide for an hour or two. And then I saw them. The "pre-freshmen," the summer orientation people.

This reminded me of the other day when I went to eat lunch with AG-F, my friend from the lab. As we walked across campus, we saw several orientation groups. They all had on name tags or the student ID cards about their necks. They were walking across the fountain, as is the tradition here upon becoming a freshman. You're supposed to walk across the fountain in the other direction upon graduation, but I haven't done so yet and I forgot which direction that is now . . .

Anyway, we saw them and we started to reminisce about freshman year, the good and the bad, what we liked and our regrets. In retrospect, there were many things I wish I could've done differently but I'm not sure things would've worked out the way. For one, I would not know many of my current friends had I not taken the classes I did in the order I took them freshman year. That's when I made the vast majority of my friends here - as freshman year forces you do make friends as few people know each other.

My other friend, JW-M, works summer orientation for the poli-sci peer advising, or something like that. So he gives his little talk to all the pre-freshmen. He calls them "freshman embryos" or "freshman larvae" (a reference to Starcraft, lol), but I'll call them pre-freshmen. They're not really freshmen until they've selected their classes and started the school year. Sometimes I think I might've liked to work as a summer orientation peer adviser. Except I wouldn't make things as rosy as they kind of require. Even JW-M had to resist the urge to say that some things just didn't matter, though the speech he had to give said it did. In private I would just be like, "Yeah, that's good" or "Ugh, that sucked. Avoid it."

Back to this morning. I was reading on a bench under the shade of trees and several orientation groups came by. They all seemed to have cameras with them. And I thought, "You're going to be spending at least 3-4 years here, why take pictures now? That's a bit touristy." And they all had their name tags on that just made me laugh inside because it looks so, um, freshman? They all seemed to be lost and only a few of them had maps. They seemed to be on some kind of scavenger hunt to look for things around campus in order to become familiar with the area. There were also some Campus Day tours, and I knew a few of the people giving them too. It's funny listening to the stuff they say: it all sounds so rehearsed, the parents judging the place, the students already knowing whether or not they want to come - so some seemed to have eyes that glazed over with boredom.

In any case, what really hit me was the excitement all the orientation people seemed to have. I miss that excitement - being in a new place, around new people, no one knows you, discovery. If nothing else that's what I missed about freshman year - the fresh start. Making friends from scratch, meeting people who know nothing about you, getting lost and then finding your way. Now there's something I wish I had done differently, but at the time I just didn't know (about myself like I do now). But do I regret? No, not really. If I were to go back in time and let events play out de novo, I'd probably end up pretty close to where I am now.

Still, what I wouldn't give for a taste of that excitement again . . . I don't think grad/med school can provide that on the level that undergrad did.


Mike said...

I can truthfully say I never felt any of that when starting college- if only I had.

Aek said...

That's so sad!! :( That was the best part of freshman year, and undergrad really (in my opinion).