Thursday, October 24, 2013

First Day Jitters

Abigail Barnstone - Newton, MA

Almost every time I give a tour of Pitzer College someone asks me what day school starts.  I often have a hard time answering that because ever since I have been at Pitzer, I have participated in the first year Orientation Adventure.  Orientation Adventures (OA) is a required and integral part of the freshman orientation.  I like to think of them as the event that takes the edge out of the first month of college.  What happens is students arrive at Pitzer, nervous and excited.  After saying goodbye to their parents and sitting through an introduction speech to Pitzer, the first year students immediately meet with their OA groups.  OA groups are selected through student choice.  They get a list of programs ranging from sipping the best coffee and visiting the most popular museums in LA to backpacking through the mountains to surfing in Orange County.  Because these trips are picked by the students, often they become very close with the other participants and leaders. 

Meeting the participants for the first time always starts off the same.  We sit in a circle on the only patches of grass on pitzer’s campus, the mounds and play icebreaker games.   As one can imagine this situation is a little awkward, because no one knows each other.

However, by day two, its almost like people wont stop talking.  It’s almost like everyone met a group of his or her long lost soul mates.    The combination of the shared situation and activity at place seems to make people really open up and embrace the new-ness of the situation.  As someone who has participated and lead these trips, I have always felt very close to the people I have met on these trips.  I always love to think of the comparison of social interactions when the group has first met to the end of the trip (and even the end of college)

How I imagine people feel when playing icebreakers on the first day of college:

What the group looks like by the end:

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