I start classes at Queen’s University this month, my credits having successful transferred. I’ve been getting more excited by the day. I haven’t been very nervous, having taken university classes before. And honestly, I’m looking forward to meeting people and experiencing a brick and mortar school setting for the first time in my life. At nineteen, this will be the first day of school for me that hasn’t included taking photos with my brothers, Mom handing out new pencils that have that fresh new smell, or Dad poking around on our computers for days to set up the math and science programs. This is the first time that I won’t be introducing myself to my fellow university students via a webcam from a different continent, ordering books a month in advance to allow them time to find me, or searching for an international proctor nearby my university will approve weeks before exams. It feels a little bit like going to school on a different planet, and I can’t wait.
But first, orientation week. I have absolutely no idea what to expect. Here we go!
At approximately 4:20 this afternoon I could be found near the John Deutsch building on campus, affectionately referred to as the JDUC, locking my bike up next to dozens of others. The crowds today are intense, as this morning all of the first years moved into residence two blocks away and are currently milling around trying to orientate themselves. I’m happier by the minute that I moved in a month ahead of time. I wonder if living off campus will mean a much tamer orientation? I’m not sure what to expect, or what to hope for… But there ain’t no way I’m going to be the one to show up late. I’d like to make a few friends and maybe learn a thing or two about any Queen’s resources that might be helpful to me. But honestly, I don’t feel uncomfortable or insecure about any of this… yet. Something not everyone here seems to share, judging by the way some of the kids around me are behaving.
I’ve discovered that if I act confident and look like I know where I’m going, people don’t assume I’m a first year and treat me accordingly. Apparently we are not beloved by the upper year students. I feel oddly in-between as a transfer student. Still a first year, but technically almost a second year. It’s a strange feeling. Still, I’m faking it.
Faking it is officially over. Impossible. Not gonna happen. Upon entering the JDUC, I was herded upstairs and through registration, where I received a navy blue shirt and one of those relatively ugly necklace keychain things that don’t seem to have a real purpose to their existence, but always get handed out at events and forgotten forever. I now match all 513 of the other FYNIRs (First Years Not In Residence). Moo. Yay for individuality. They let me keep my hat. I’ve been placed in a group of eight, Group #42. Our theme is (what else?) The Froshhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a small thing, but I’m quite pleased to be in Group #42 and not Group #4, which is Froshtin Powers. Who thinks, “Let’s see, we’re supposed to go with a sci fi theme… Ok, how about Austin Powers?!” Fail.
I have yet to befriend anyone in particular, though our group is very diverse, and the girls have kind of adopted each other already. I’ve discovered that most everyone else has a much higher investment in being popular and making a ton of friends than I do. Many of them are openly admitting their insecurities about the subject and making a joke out of it, which oddly enough makes them appear even more insecure. I am the oldest of the FYNIRs, most of them in the 17-18 range. There are a couple of other 19 year olds. I didn’t expect to be the oldest.
All 5,515 new students, both FYNIRs and residence, gathered at the big indoor gym to hear some speakers and chant school “spirit” cheers and do awkward pelvic thrusts at the same time. There’s a lot of excited energy, but also a good deal of discomfort and general weirdness. For me, someone who’s never attended a school, it feels like a mix between Hogwarts (I went to a Quidditch match just now) and all those cheesy American movies and TV shows about high school and middle school.