I AM OFFICIALLY AN ADULT.
Okay, that’s a lie. But I did just start my first year of university, and I thought I’d tell you about my first week. This blog post comes to you in two parts because it is crazy long.
DAY 1: MOVE-IN
To say that this day was anxiety-filled might be an understatement.
I woke up early (couldn’t sleep) and spent the next few hours adamantly trying not to think about what I would be doing in a few hours. It’s not that I wasn’t excited to go to university—I was. But I’m a highly anxious, socially-awkward human who was about to be thrust into a new situation with new people and new everything else.
We finally left the house at 1:30 (late as always), everything packed and organized in the trunk. I had all of another half hour to freak out before we were pulling in to the parking lot and the Sophs’ cheers reached our ears.
(My first thought may or not have been oh god. They’re chanting. Someone help. Sue me, I’m shy as heck.)
After we got out of the car, the Sophs kindly took all my crap and sent it up to my room while I waited in the longest line I’ve ever seen for my student card and Orientation Week package. (The late thing probably didn’t help.)
When I finally managed to get up to my room, my roommates were already there and unpacked. Turns out, we’re all huge nerds and are in most of the same fandoms—Harry Potter, Marvel, Percy Jackson, etc. Seeing as not getting along with any of my suitemates was a huge worry of mine, I was more than glad to find that we fit together so well.
My parents stayed for a while to help me unpack, and after we grabbed dinner together, I headed back to my room for the night’s activities. The university had planned a small little carnival outside our dorm, and although we didn’t go on any of the rides, I did get some good cotton candy and had my first ever snow cone, so I count that as a win.
Afterwards, we went back to the dorm and hung out. We were supposed to watch one of the Romeo and Juliet movies (part of our homework), but instead we just talked, which turned into fangirling, which in turn became a dramatic reading of My Immortal… man, I’m so glad they’re all as crazy as me.
DAY 2: EXPLORING
Since I was tired as hell from the previous night, I chose to sleep in a little (until about 9:30) while my suitemates left for breakfast. Though my roommate was still asleep, the rest of us got ready and left to explore campus.
We picked up a couple of my suitemate’s friends on the way and headed over to the campus bookstore to pick up our textbooks. I was tired and needed coffee, but I was still crowned the bookstore queen for finding everyone’s books so quickly, so that was good.
My parents came by briefly to drop some stuff off, and then I hung out with my suitemates for a while before going dinner. All of our events for that day were in the evening and back-to-back, so we were told to grab something filling as we’d be preoccupied for a good four hours.
First, we went down to our residence’s courtyard for a quick pep rally. After a bunch of chant practicing (we’d be doing them at Opening Ceremonies later) and a quick routine by the cheerleaders, we headed down to the Ceremony.
After the opening speech, all of the residences and faculties did their chants/dances. Some were better than others—though slightly embarrassing, ours wasn’t bad—but there were a couple really cool ones, including a Star Wars-based one.
There was also an EDM concert after the opening ceremonies, and though I’ve never really been a fan of electronic music, I went with a couple friends from my floor. It was fun—the energy was super strong there—but after a while, it got a bit irritating. I’m short and small and my balance isn’t great either, so as the crowd got thicker, I found myself constantly boxed into a two-foot radius and either being elbowed, having my foot stepped on, or being directly under someone’s sweaty armpit. Also, every five minutes someone would shove their way through the crowd and I’d almost fall into the person beside me, so that was fun. The lights and loud noises were getting to me a little, too. Another girl and I decided to go home after about an hour and a half, while the rest of them stayed for another couple hours.
After a shower and a couple hours of reading—thank god for some chill time—I went to bed.
DAY 3: RESIDENCE DAY
This was our first early wakeup.
It was supposed to be at 7, but thankfully our Sophs took pity on us and gave us an extra half hour to sleep in. But I’d still only managed about five hours of sleep the night before, so I wasn’t doing so well.
After getting ready and grabbing lunch in the caf, we headed down for our first event of the day: the welcome rally. After a couple notices about what to do and what not to do in rez (and several more chants), we turned to our guest speaker of the event: Mike Domitrz.
His presentation, Can I Kiss You?, was centered around consent and sexual violence, and I thought it was amazing. It’s hard for someone to engage a roomful of teenagers in any subject, especially with a subject like this, but he did it wonderfully. Though he was funny and made several jokes, he never made light of the topic, and I really think he helped teach a lot of people in the room. Honestly, I’m just glad my university has that speech, because it’s definitely needed on every college campus. (Especially since the two guys walking behind me were discussing how “slut” and “whore” shouldn’t be censored as (and this is an actual quote) “some girls are actually sluts and whores”. Keep it classy, kids.)
After the welcome rally, we headed to a fire safety presentation. Though it was hot before the rally, it was sweltering by early afternoon. For most of the week it was low thirties (that’s about mid-eighties to low nighties for you American folks), and we were walking about seven kilometres a day in the thick of it. That part wasn’t that fun. Sweat was everywhere. If your frosh week is going to be Fires of Hell Week like mine was, please stay hydrated. My roommate forgot her water bottle a couple times and ended up missing events because she had headaches. Even if it means you’re peeing every two hours or so, drink a ton of water.
Another pro-tip I discovered the hard way: if you have your student ID/room card on a lanyard, be careful when you get up. During the fire safety presentation, my lanyard fell between my legs, and when I went to get up, I sliced the back of my thigh open. Also, bring lots of Band-Aids in lots of sizes. I only brought small bandages—and I was already using them up like crazy for my feet.
Finally, around three-ish, we went back to our dorms for a quick lunch. At this point, my feet were killing me, and the shoes I’d been wearing for the last couple days, an on-their-last-legs pair of thrift store Keds, were pretty much ruined. By the second day, the insoles were shredded and the moleskin patches I need to prevent blisters had come off and were rubbing painfully. My Vans (the only other “comfy” shoes I had besides a pair of running shoes I’d yet to wear in) required me to use up half my supply of bandages for blister prevention and for some strange reason, pinched my pinky toes. Seriously: find a pair of cute, comfy (and hopefully cheap) shoes and wear them during frosh week. You’ll thank me later.
After lunch, a quick Internet break and a floor meeting to go over rules, it was time to grab dinner and get ready for our residence-wide dance. We were a little late (of course) but so was the dance, so it was okay.
My roommate and I only stayed at the dance for a little while because there weren’t enough people to hide in and the music wasn’t that great (plus a drunk guy almost fell on top of us), and instead went back into our residence to watch Mean Girls with another girl on our floor who had yet to see it. All in all, it was a much better way to end the evening.
DAY 4: FACULTY DAY
This was another 7:30 wakeup. This time, I’d at least managed six hours of sleep.
First we had a welcoming rally for Arts and Humanities students. After the Sophs introduced themselves and the Arts and Humanities dean gave a speech, we had two guest lectures—one from a Women’s Studies professor on how touch affects people and another from an English professor on the symbolism in Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” video. Though I liked the first lecture, the English professor’s lecture on the dual nature (the fairy tale elements and the gothic elements) of “Blank Space” was pretty awesome. He also snuck in lots of pop culture references (including three Mean Girls references) and he was wearing pink on a Wednesday. Man, I wish he was my prof.
After a quick clubs showcase at the university art gallery, we headed back to the dorm to grab lunch and get ready for our program orientation. Though almost everyone on my floor is in the same program, not everyone in the program is on our floor. So it was nice to meet each other and the head of our program. I’m pretty excited, honestly, because it means we get to read books and then discuss them in class.
The last event of the day is a concert my university calls One Love. It’s essentially a bunch of speeches and songs about being inclusive, equality, bullying, LGBTQ+ rights, and all that good stuff. Glenn Canning came up to talk about Retaeah Parsons and rape culture, and basically ripped my heart out of my chest, because God is that man strong. (Also: those boys are pure evil.) Ivan Coyote came up and gave a hilarious and important speech about gender neutrality and trans rights, and also the best argument for the bathroom debate. Kim Katrin Milan and Tiq Milan came up and gave one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard on everything from trans rights, consent, police brutality and loving one another. Jessi Cruikshank hosted the concert, and told a shocking (and not so shocking, honestly) story about her own experience with cyberbullying when she accidently (and undeservingly) caught the ire of a displeased fandom.
At the end, Sean McCann, who was one of the members of Great Big Sea, sang a couple songs. It had started raining about halfway through the concert, when Glenn Canning was talking about Retaeah, and it pissed me off to no end that people started to get up and leave. (To which I say sit back down, son. If it’s so easy for you to leave, then it’s even more important that you stay and listen. As Sean McCann quoted his grandmother, we’re not made of sugar.)
The upside to other people wimping out was that the people who stayed were the ones who really wanted to. As Sean McCann sang, we all joined arms and swayed to the music together, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.
After the concert ended and all the performers came back for a final bow, the fireworks started. As it had been raining so hard, none of us were entirely sure if the fireworks would still be going on, but we weren’t disappointed.
I got back to my dorm with sore feet and a tired body, and even though I had a 9:30 class the next day, I was too happy to care.