Saturday, October 8, 2011

Memories from Orientation

It's about an eight hour drive from Chicago, without counting bathroom breaks, stopping for lunch, motion sickness, or the fact that all of the people inside the car are really bad at interpreting map-quest driving directions. Considering all of this, my mom was wise to book a hotel in St. Paul so we could arrive the day before Move-In Day. On September 2nd, 2011 I arrived on campus early in the morning, at the corner of Macalester St. and Grand Avenue.

As soon as I stepped out of the car everything has been a frenzy, a bit of subtle chaos with too many things to do and not enough time. The first three days or so were very stressful, during orientation week there were lots of scheduled activities for first-years, and it was a constant struggle to keep up. "Go here, now!" "Hurry, go over there!" "Then come back! Quickly!" "Where are we supposed to go next?" I had to look back at the schedule every ten minutes to remind myself where orientation events were held. The days were choppy, and there was not enough time in between scheduled events to do anything I wanted to do, or get off campus.

I am a bit slow at making friends so Orientation Week was a little rough. For the first few weeks I was very home sick, and I didn't realize so until someone pointed it out. It was strange, I never thought I was going to be homesick, so I wasn't looking out for it, but the semi-permanent sensation of loneliness slowly wore off once classes started and I settled into my weekly routine of classes, after I joined student orgs and I started to get busy with homework load. The best moment during orientation week was when I met Sara, an exchange student from Spain. I was with a couple of people I had already met during my visit in the spring sampler, there was a soccer game and we were sitting by the fence that surrounds the field. There were fifteen or so first-years, all introducing themselves to each other. Lots of names came at me quickly, and just as quickly I forgot them. Sara however, turned out to be in my FYC (first year course), and lives three doors down the hall. She is one of my best friends now, and it's nice to have someone with whom I can speak Spanish. Coming from Mexico, the only people I could talk in spanish was my family, nobody at school spoke any. I speak more spanish here at Mac than I did back home; multiculturalism love!

Another cool moment was when I met Hector. I'm from Mexico, from this not-so-little-anymore town called Veracruz, and since I've lived in this country I've never met anyone from there. I was walking down the stairs, and I heard someone talking in a heavy spanish accent. Cute, I thought. But then he said Veracruz. I intercepted, cut in and interrupted the conversation. With a loud voice and an accelerated heart beat I asked him if he was from Veracruz, Mexico. He said yes, and I hugged him right there on the stairs. By now, we are inseparable and if I don't see him at least once a day I miss him. Who would have thought that after five years of living in the U.S. and not finding a Veracruzano in Chicago, I would find Hector in the stairwell of Turck Hall at Macalester College. A long-time dream come true. I guess that goes to show how special the Mac community is.

I have to be honest: orientation week is rough for everyone, but it is not indicative of the rest of the school year. The first day is the worst, the second is pretty bad, the third day gets a little better, and so on. On the first day I was nervous, and more than a little bit distressed that my mom was gonna embarrass me in front of my future friends. I was a disaster, dropping everything in my hands, tripping, and talking a bit too fast. I cried when I hugged my mom good bye a day sooner than planned. But everyday got a little better. My description may make orientation sound like an awful, traumatic experience, but it really wasn't. Although it was stressful, orientation forced me to transition and branch out, helping me meet most of the close friends I have made so far. I now realize that orientation is worth it.

- Gaby Landeros Fernandez '15