University of Michigan Freshman Orientation: Delving into diversity on Day 1
It was my turn to become one of the “newbies” with the Michigan name tags roaming around downtown for Freshman Orientation.
Our day began in East Quad within the walls of the Residential College. After a hearty Michigan welcome from the orientation leaders, we were entertained with a movie about transportation. Then a police officer talked about campus safety, which turned out to be an hour of learning about all the rules behind alcohol and marijuana.
We broke up into groups to go on yet another tour of Michigan’s campus, one supposedly about shortcuts, but this tour involved getting wet. We had finally earned the right to wade through the fountain and walk away from the Rackham Building, a symbolic crossing to becoming a Wolverine. The tour was also our first real chance to start meeting other students.
Other than for registering for classes, it seemed like meeting other students was really the whole point of orientation. It was slightly disappointing to realize that most of the people I met are in entirely different schools within the university and living on different campuses so I probably won’t see many of them in the fall. But that’s exactly what the beauty of orientation was; it was an opportunity to delve into the depths of diversity within the university. Meeting people with a variety of other interests coming from a variety of other parts of the country just gave me a much greater appreciation for the university that has been a part of my home for so long.
It felt weird to say that I was from Ann Arbor. I think that immersed with students who were leaving their hometowns and venturing out, it just seemed different to be staying so close to home. Running into friends from high school downtown made me feel like I was just hanging out on a normal summer day. But I have to admit, it was nice to already have a general idea where everything was and I enjoyed being able to show people from out of town around campus.
After a session about financial aid and money at Michigan, many students found themselves taking their very first exams at the University of Michigan - placement tests.
Everyone I talked to had one piece of advice about orientation: Don’t skip the theater performance. The Educational Theatre Company put on an absolutely outstanding show completely created by students to prepare us freshmen for many of the different situations that can come up through college. The performance addressed things like alcohol, stress, homesickness, abuse, residence halls, and many more, and it addressed them in a comical, sometimes satirical, and other times very serious manner. But it was the segment about making a difference in the world that really made me have no doubt in my mind that I made the right choice by coming to Michigan.
That’s when we were let loose. Most people had found their own group; it hadn’t taken long for people to start to segregate themselves. A night of social activities with no curfew began, and many students did not hesitate to take full advantage. It’s funny how it was already obvious how some people are not going to let their college life without a curfew pass them by.
And that was Day 1. Most of the day was spent anticipating Day 2, the day for choosing classes, and it was definitely a long day. But to get us ready for the college community outside of academics, it was beyond helpful.
Trisha Paul will be a University of Michigan student in the fall who will write about Ann Arbor as a college town. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.