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First-years adjust to day-to-day ’Deis life

By Anastasia Austin

Section: Features

September 9, 2011

The beginning of the year is always full of transitions, some more dramatic than others. The first-years leave home for the first time. Sophomores deal with the realization that they are no longer first-years and that the people who were in their shoes last year will be graduating next year; juniors have to get used to the label of “upperclassmen”; and seniors prepare to take the jump into the real world.

All of these transitions are recognized and celebrated, marked by some version of “my baby’s all grown up” from parents and family friends. For those involved in orientation, however, there is another, more subtle, transition from the two weeks of “college” that more closely resemble summer camp to the bustling hubbub of seminars, advising sessions and reading lists. One day the biggest concern is making sure to get a good seat for the SSIS presentation and the next everyone is worried about grasping the finer points of the Nicaraguan revolution and the human genome.

The biggest change for many upon entering college is realizing that in an hour of “free” time, there are 15 things that need to be done. For Sathvy Reddy ’15, however, the challenge was slightly different: remembering to go to bed on time.

“I haven’t gone to bed once before midnight and everything is still a tad overwhelming,” Reddy said, explaining that her new-found insomnia was due to the classwork, friends and the entire college experience.

The first-years and the orientation leaders who led them no longer have every waking hour planned out, but the freedom comes at a cost: They are now responsible for making sure everything gets done.

It was also hard for many to say when the experience of orientation really ended. Though classes started four days before the boat cruise (the official last hurrah of orientation) many OLs didn’t feel like it was over until they stopped wearing their yellow shirts.

“For a week, it seemed like all I did was help with orientation events and answer questions from first-years. Taking off that yellow shirt was like taking away my OL identity. How would first-years know to ask me anything if they didn’t know who I was?” Daria Ameri ’14 said.

Many first-years found themselves torn between the start of class and with it normal college life and the abundance of orientation social events that spilled over into Labor Day weekend. Those who especially enjoyed orientation plan to keep in touch with their OL groups; some OLs are even finding it difficult to let go.

Others, on the other hand, were more than ready to explore the rest of what Brandeis has to offer, though many agree that they will look back at their experience as memorable, if nothing else.

Reddy and Jessica Miller ’15 were especially touched by the orientation presentations.

“My favorite part was Jamele Adams’ words about greatness and slam poetry—they were so beautiful,” Reddy said.

Orientation may be over, but its left all those involved a lot more familiar with campus and excited to start the new year.

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