Writing a blog entry that covers the basics of Freshman Orientation was a piece of cake. But when my boss asked me to write an entry about my own personal experience with orientation and dorm life, I knew I’d have to go into the back of my closet to rummage through my little freshman memories box to do some long overdue reminiscing. Oddly enough, the stories of my freshman orientation and my experience in the dorms that year have a lot to do with one another. They are so related, in fact, that they really just form one conveniently interdependent story. And to be honest with you, I’m slightly convinced that this entry assignment was fate, because the story I am about to tell is definitely one worth sharing (and I don’t have very many of those). I remember it, though, like it was yesterday….. (Cue wind chimes).
Neither of my parents were able to come to my Orientation, but that was during my whole “I’m 18, I’m an adult, I can handle it” phase, so it didn’t really phase me. Instead, I brought my friend, Tania, to keep me company on the five hour drive to Jax. I didn’t know or care very much about Orientation, but when we finally got to UNF’s campus, I couldn’t believe how quickly my mood lifted. It had been so long since I had seen it, that I almost forgot why I chose this school. The welcoming vibes and naturally beautiful scenery of the campus that had sold me just over a year ago were even better than I’d remembered.
When I walked up to the smiling college student at the sign-in table she told me that they were giving out free Chick-fil-a breakfast. It was official; this place was home. I joined in on some presentations, met up with my Orientation group, and really started to see myself as a student at UNF. While my attitude had definitely improved, my sense of direction definitely had not and there were several occasions when Tania and I were either completely lost or confused about where we were supposed to be in general.
At one point, I remember losing my Orientation group in the Student Union and running into a familiar-looking girl in the bookstore. Her name was Lauren and it turned out that we were in the same group and both had no idea where it had gone. We managed to find our group together and really bonded over our mutual tendencies to get lost and to make situations unnecessarily awkward. Next thing I knew I was filling out a roommate request form and eating lunch with the girl I would be sharing a dorm with for the next year.
This is where my experience living on campus comes into play. See, back when I was your age and hashtags were still called pound signs, UNF didn’t offer any kind of roommate matching process. Unless you had a friend from home, you were stuck with a total rando. I knew I wasn’t the only one who found that idea terrifying when Lauren asked me to live with her at Orientation. We had talked over the basics of our living habits and decided that we had a better chance with each other than with a complete stranger or some online survey. We we’re right.
It would make a really nice story to be able to tell you guys that I met my first roommate at Orientation and we ended up getting along just fine. It makes an even better story being able to tell you that I met my absolute best friend at that Orientation and the most influential person in my college experience to date. As I’m sitting here looking through this old box of pictures, notes, and a compilation of our favorite Texts From Last Night of 2011, there is not a single thing that I would change about that year. My freshman experience at UNF was everything I could have hoped for, from the nights that my roommate stayed up until 3am consoling me with my family problems, to the giant random dorm fiesta that broke out in our room.
I can’t promise you that you are going to meet your BFF at your freshman orientation. I realize that is unlikely. However, if someone had told me that a guy in a sombrero would lead a conga line through my dorm and out the first floor window, I probably wouldn’t have believed that either. Regardless of where you choose to pursue your education, college is going to be whatever you make of it. But if you choose the school that truly feels right for you, you’ll be changed forever. I never would have thought that I could feel so indebted to an institution, but there is no doubt that my four years as a UNF student have made me the person (#Osprey) that I am today.