You’ve decided on a college- the University of Georgia- but let’s be honest, it doesn’t hit you until you show up for orientation. You’re going to get handed way too many pieces of paper with words that you don’t feel like reading, which you’ll probably pass on to your parents if you brought them with you. If not, the papers are going to end up in whatever convenient bag you decided to bring on this mini journey to UGA. But none of those papers are going to tell you what’s really about to happen. That’s why I’m here. Here’s what actually happens at UGA freshman orientation.
1. No one is going to talk for the first few hours.
Walking into Tate Grand Hall is going to seem very intimidating. That’s when it will really hit you. You’re in college now. This is it. You’re out of high school. You’ve made it here. Suddenly the dream becomes a reality, and it’s going to take a minute to process where your life is about to be. Surprise! Everyone else is going through the same thing. Don’t be surprised if a lot of people keep to themselves for the first few hours. It takes a minute to process the life change, but everyone warms up after a while.
2. You’re going to feel really uncomfortable until the first night.
That feeling doesn’t wear off very quickly. Some people will already be there with their friends while you sit in between your parents with your roommate. As the lights dim and guests speak, you’ll probably hear that your class is the highest scoring class that UGA has had yet. This will be followed by light-hearted jokes about how every incoming freshman is used to being top of their class, and now we join together as average. It’s funny the first time. It stops being funny after that. Between this, unnecessary lectures, and the awkward silences, it’s going to seem like it will be a very uncomfortable day. Not all hope is lost, though. After your last small groups on night one, everything suddenly gets better. Guaranteed. Maybe the orientation leaders have their own version of SNL, maybe everyone realizes that it’s okay to bond over the fact that you’re all uncomfortable, maybe you just meet someone you click with in your small group. But it will get better.
3. If it rains, your night might actually be improved.
No one controls the weather. This is unfortunate because most of UGA is subject to the elements. If what happened to me happens to you, then it might start pouring in the middle of day one. If you can get over the fact that whatever outfit you decided was going to impress people is going to be soaking wet, your day is probably going to get significantly better. No one is going to bond more than when they are trying to get from MLC to Tate in the pouring rain.
4. You’ll have a strong desire to start your life as a Dawg early.
Leaving your last activity on day one, the orientation leaders have probably tried to do a pretty good job of instilling the excitement of being a Dawg into your very soul. As much as you want to admit that you aren’t jumping up and down on the inside, you are going to admit that you’re glad to be on your own for once. So why not go do something to celebrate your first nights as a student at UGA? Head downtown for Insomnia Cookies, jump in the Herty Fountain, ring the chapel bell. Choose one, do all three- it’s really up to you. But odds are, you’re going for all three.
5. You realize that sinks are a privilege.
At freshman orientation, everyone is crowded into Creswell Hall, which is probably where most of your friends are going to end up when August rolls around. You are going to walk in fully aware that freshman dorms have community bathrooms. You are not going to be fully aware that you have never truly appreciated having a sink nearby during your years at home. Brushing your teeth or washing your hands has suddenly become a major hassle; now you have to walk all the way down the hall and wait in line to use a sink. You are going to decide right in that moment if you can handle living in the high rises.
6. You are going to get your UGA ID.
Day two has arrived, and in reality, it’s just picture day all over again. One more time of getting one shot at the picture that is going to get looked at every day. If you don’t get there decently early, the line is going to be wrapped around to the door of the Tate Center. You’re going to stand in that line trying to decide if you want the arch or the classic “G” as the background of this little piece of plastic and try to make small talk with the people around you. Once you finally take the picture, you’re going to have no idea what to expect in front of the red background that you were sitting in front of. Then, you’re going to wait in one more line to get your hand scanned. (What you don’t know is that it really doesn’t matter though because odds are you’re going to get it re-scanned at some point). But then you’ll finally get the little piece of plastic that validates a new chapter of your life.
7. You will realize that you have to be an adult now.
At some point in the second day, you’re going to have your first academic advising meeting. On the way up to Memorial Hall, you’re going to realize that this is it. You’re going to figure out your schedule for your first semester of college. You’re going to meetings on your own. You’re going to have to balance these classes on your own. You’re going to have to go to the Health Center on your own (because Freshman Plague has no mercy – don’t think you’re immune). Your life is in your hands now, and it’s going to feel refreshingly and wonderfully terrifying.
8. You might meet your best friends.
If you get lucky, then the most important thing that actually happens at freshman orientation is that you find the people who are going to get you through the next four years at UGA. Maybe it’s your roommate who you are just meeting for the first time, maybe it’s someone that you meet in a small group, maybe it’s someone that you met in passing and won’t even talk to again until you realize you had summer work for Chem 1211. Either way, they’ll make you realize that everything is going to be okay. Odds are you aren’t even going to want to leave Creswell when it’s time to pack up.