Our parents will remember Freshman Orientation as the beginning of our academic careers. Those brave women and men who hauled boxes across Mills Lawn while fighting tears were undoubtedly moved by Convocation. They called their children on the phone, begging them to wear something nice for Candlewish. They saw finding the perfect shirt to send to Aunt Marge as a world-class adventure.
The adventures of the Class of 2019 were somewhat different. We freshmen will remember ball pits, kettle corn, and ice cream. We will know the joy of finally catching our very own bits of heaven at the Pancake Flip. We will wish we could donate to such worthy causes as “Joints for the Homeless” or find 20 dollar bills in our produce. One night I drove a classmate to Gilt for the annual back-to-school nightclub bash; the next night, I drove a different girl to the emergency room. Needless to say, my experience this past week was slightly more colorful than my mother’s. Freshman life is fast-paced and unpredictable, but that is the beauty of it.
Before I came to Rollins, had you sat me down in a psychiatrist’s chair and asked me to play word-association with the unique experience of going to college, my list would have been comprised of several F-words: Fear. Fish-out-of-Water. Another, less-scholarly term. After Freshman Orientation, I could only give you one: Found.
I was so proud, as I am sure the rest of my class was, to be welcomed to the Rollins community by President Cornwell. No matter how many times people congratulated me on making it out of high school alive, I only truly believed it once I got here. But, even after matriculating, there were those little doubts. You all know them well:
I’m not in college. No one will like me. I don’t belong here.
So many people have proven those thoughts wrong. MB Vincent and Hanna Cody ’16, my peer mentors, took my entire RCC to get fro-yo; Dr. French still asks constantly about my EP after I mentioned my songwriting during one of the thousands of icebreakers during RCC. From day one, the staff and students of Rollins have looked at me like I was part of the family. Before last week, I doubted whether I was even supposed to be at Rollins. After only seven days, I am certain that Orientation not only began my collegiate life, but my life as a happier, healthier, and more fearless version of the girl who graduated from the 12th grade in May.
I mean, I danced in a nightclub. I auditioned for the Annie Russell’s fall season. I even—drumroll, please—talked to a boy.
I had a blast at orientation. If you did not, fellow newbies, I offer this advice: Do not be scared to dive into the sentimentality of this new beginning. I heard people walking to class this week saying how Orientation was booked too solid for their delicate sleep patterns or too mushy to be cool, but I promise you will get the most from your experience if you relish in discovering your place instead of worrying about finding it. This year is going to be a blast, but only if you let it. Try new things. Treat every opportunity as a gift. Talk to boys! If you want to, you will find your anchor here.
Good luck and Fiat Lux.