10 Tips to Win Orientation Week

Forget About The Nerves. Own O-Week With These Tips.
 Forget About The Nerves. Own O-Week With These Tips.

Nothing will be more terrifying in your four years of college than the very first week you arrive. Orientation week will make you forget you’re a newly designated adult, and throw you back into feeling like it’s freshman year of high school. Will I make friends? Will people like me? What should I wear? Who should I be? Will I get lost?

Nerves are high because you’ve just graduated from years of creating an identity, to start again in an all-new landscape with unfamiliar faces. Whatever identity you held, whatever attributes you attached to your personality -- keep ‘em or lose ‘em. Either way, there’s a good chance you left senior year with confidence high and self-esteem up because your social circle  accepted you for whoever you were. Now, will a sea of new student bodies accept you just the same?

There’s that, plus everything else you’re dealing with. A totally different schedule, a bigger course load, navigating campus, an unique housing situation (roommates!), and the sheer fact you’re in completely unknown territory. Ready to get focused, grounded and poised to conquer? Here are 10 tips to win Orientation Week.

  1. Breath. Then smile. It seems easy, but when you find your anxiety levels rising, or your palms getting clammy from nervousness, take a couple of deep breaths. Focus on your five senses and the sensations you’re picking up externally and internally. Bring yourself back to the present moment and out of your head. And hey! You’re starting college! Remind yourself how awesome the next four years are going to be and get grateful. Force yourself to crack a smile for no reason -- it’s proven to raise serotonin levels that keep you happy, and generates good vibes to those you come across.

  2. Remind yourself you’re not alone. Most likely, upper classmen haven’t arrived on campus yet and the students you see in and around campus are freshman. What does that mean? Everyone’s new! And there’s a good chance they’re more terrified than you are. Remind yourself that everyone is going through the same thing, no better no worse, and ground yourself in knowing you’re in good company. Try bonding over the nerves and using it as small talk!

  3. Practice self-care. It’s become such a buzzword these days because it’s true! Self-care, or putting yourself and your needs first, is something you should be doing year-round, not just orientation week. When cortisone levels are high, you need to work extra hard to keep them down by squeezing in “me” time, hobbies and enjoyable activities, pampering, relaxation practices, journaling, or whatever fills your bucket. Ignoring yourself means you’ll risk presenting the a lesser version of yourself -- and keep that in mind this week when every impression is the first one.

  4. Hydrate. We’re not going to delve too deeply into what you end up doing during your first weekend, but whether it’s a big first night out or a quiet night in the dorms, stay hydrated. Another no-brainer, but for those who have never drank, understanding what your limits are (and how you’ll feel tomorrow) usually comes after nights of having too much. Stay ahead of the curve by drinking plenty of water, and if you’re going out, make sure to double up on the H2O and get a good meal in. (And we don’t mean to parent, but be responsible!)

  5. Get organized. Things are going to start coming at you fast. Set up good habits from the start by getting organized. That can mean something different to everyone, but figure out what works for you. Are you a traditionalist with a datebook and a pen? Or more tech-savvy and into the latest productivity apps? Whichever works best for you, start cementing a schedule of your classes, any introductory club meetings you’re considering attending, check-in’s with friends and family, and any to-do’s. Get a system down so that when finals week rolls around, you’re stress-free because you’ve been able to master studying a little bit nightly.

  6. Sign up for everything. At the student fair, sign your name and handover your contact info for every club that even minutely interests you. It’s worth attending as many intro meetings as possible, and even testing it out for a couple of weeks. You’ll find what really interests you, what groups and social circles you might gravitate towards, and how you’ll want to allocate your time going forward. Now’s the time to give everything a chance. Why? By junior year, we promise your motivation to join the newspaper will wane because every other junior is now managing it.

  7. Map out campus. The last thing you want to happen is to get lost on your way to Monday morning’s first class. Get a lay of the land during Orientation Week by mapping out where each of your classes is and walking the routes you’d take between them. Consider what’s nearby and where’d be able to grab a coffee or lunch. Figure out where the toilets are. Then, explore. Administration has spent a lot of time and money making your campus beautiful and accessible -- start discovering it!

  8. Leave your comfort zone. This may be the best advice we have. If you really want to survive and thrive through O-week, you have to face all of the fears and anxieties that will come up, and get the heck out of your comfort zone. If you see a group of girls you share a class with chatting, don’t be afraid to join them and introduce yourself. Instead of sitting by yourself at lunch, find someone else who is (and looks friendly) and ask to sit with them. Get out of your dorm room. Go to every event. Explore all of the things that make you fearful -- we promise you won’t look back!

  9. Settle in immediately. Unpack your shit. Seriously. On move-in day, move in. Don’t leave clothes in suitcases on the floor and stationary shoved into your desk. Make your dorm room feel like home from the start. Remember, clutter in the external clutters the internal. Make sure your room is (as much as it can be) a relaxing and cozy nook to come back to. Hang up pictures, lights, comfortable pillows -- whatever you need to make it feel like you’re home.

  10. Get to know your leaders and RA’s. For a couple of reasons. If you start building good relationships with your RA and orientation leader, you’re developing a get-out-of-jail-free card when you need help (or you’re in trouble!), and/or a support system when you’re struggling. They’re sources of invaluable information that you won’t find out for yourself until at least a year later, so milk them for all the tips and advice you can get now.

But most of all -- the best way to win orientation week is to enjoy it. You’ll only experience this once!



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