This section is meant to illustrate the transition of college through a first-year’s eye. This perspective is unapologetically truthful, funny, serious, brutal, hysterical, happy, all of which are common to feel in college at one point or another. Whether that be navigating Commons during peak hours, or dealing with the newfound freedom, or just what it means to be a college student. This section discusses everything from words of advice to the culture shock; this new section is meant to be a safe space for first-year students and for the upperclassmen to reflect on their first-year experiences. In short-words, this is real talk about college.
Awkward. One word to encompass the feelings of first-year students after they settle into their dorm rooms, received farewells from parents, uncomfortably greeted their roommate, and watched how energetic the upperclassmen pretended to be because they are told to do so through orientation training. If this feeling has not run through you yet, trust me, it will. For me, the idea of college centered around being at an institution of like-minded scholars, all who are pursuing a degree to make the world a better place. That idea was shattered within twenty-four hours of being at Bates. What I learned so far in my time at Bates and as a college student is vastly different than what I expected to learn. I feel the need to pass on my knowledge to other first-years who have yet to experience what I have.
Do not get me wrong, I am no college expert nor do I think I am qualified to determine your college experience for you. Simply, I am talking about the realities of higher education and my interactions with these realities. Before I dive into the serious and dense discussions like the party culture here, I want to talk about the week-long event we all had to go through: orientation.
My week of orientation dragged on at a slow pace; interacting with strangers in my cohort for the first and last time. Although I met amazing people and for an hour, we tolerated each other for the sake of the exercises given to us, but the truth is, I see these people around campus and I have yet to wave at them or strike up small talk.
Do you know why that is? It’s because orientation introduces first-year students to each other. It introduces, but does not establish a connection that binds us all. Or maybe it is simply because students would rather be with their friends than talk about racial equity with a random, student of color. I understand how hard it is to open up to meeting new people, especially when that interaction is not organic.
Only on my AESOP trip, a trip where students take a social media break to catch waves, explore nearby islands, get in touch with the Maine roots, or volunteer, was I able to bond with my peers. After bonding through s’mores and numerous bug bites, I felt closer to the Bates community. Following the trip, the weekend after the first week of school pushed me back to being the clueless first-year student once again.
My favorite part of my transition to college: the party culture. A standard dorm room party consists of playing games involving solo cups mixed with the overcrowding of strangers reeking of certain substances, so I intentionally avoided the party culture. I thought I was doing a great job at leaving the hangovers and bad choices to other students but apparently, the party culture can pick its victims at any time.
Around midnight, I was in my room when a stumbling stranger dazed and sleepy came into my room and attempted to tuck themselves into bed. The person seemed unaware that this wasn’t their room. Several people tried to get the person out of my room yet the stumbling stranger persisted to stay. After some fumbling, the stumbling stranger eventually made it back to their real bed. Of course, the stumbling stranger couldn’t leave without letting me know they were there, so what better way to leave your mark than with urine! Maybe the person was trying to write their name, almost like a movie star signing a photograph for a fan. Except, I was not a fan. The only thing I got out of it was one less bath towel.
As a survivor of the party culture, I think Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz said it best: “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”. Being in an unfamiliar environment is awkward, so I believe that accepting this awkwardness allows us to more easily adjust to college. Maybe just don’t go around peeing and sleeping in others’ dorms, but do open up to more experiences and people. Learn more about each other, learn more about yourself, and learn more about Bates. My parting advice for you all is to start locking your doors at night.