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Dear Incoming Freshmen: An Orientation to Orientation

You should see her breakdance. Hint: not Condy
After officially completing year one at Camp Claremont, I learned a few life lessons.  Lessons that matter.  Lessons that stick in your mind.  Lessons like, For the Love of God and All That is Holy Never Pregame the 6:01 party.  Shipping off to college is more than a little terrifying.  Trust me, I’ve been there.  Here are a few things you should be prepared to do:

Have the Same Conversation 195423857 Times: 

God knows how many times I met these people before I actually remembered who they were
It’s the first week of school and you’re surrounded by hundreds (or thousands) of strangers, prepare yourself to answer the same questions over and over again.  What’s your major?  Where are you from? What dorm are you in?  Even better, this conversation may even happen multiple times with the same person as there is no way either of you is actually paying attention to what the other person is saying.  What’s my major? Creationism with a minor in Pig Latin.  Where am I from? Atlantis. No, not the resort, the city under the sea, ever heard of it? What dorm am I in?  I actually turned in my housing form late so I’m posting up in that cupboard under the fresh fruit in the dining hall until they can find a room for me.  That’s right, make ‘em do a double take, they wont remember it anyways.

Get Lost:

I wish these people would tell me where Scripps Gym is…

Claremont McKenna College is by no means a big campus.  It’s essentially a decent sized rectangle with dorms on one side and classroom buildings on the other; there’s absolutely no ambiguity and things are clearly labeled.  Yeah, tell that to my baby freshman self.  I mastered the art of wandering around looking at my iPhone to “change the song” AKA desperately sneak peeks at Google Maps in a vain attempt to find a destination less than 500 feet away.  I once spent over forty minutes looking for Scripps Gym. Yes, it was under a minute from my dorm.  Yes, I had been there before.  No, I never found it.  (Will someone please tell me where it is?  I hear there’s a really nice pool…) I imagine if I had gone to a state school I would get lost inside my dorm and never be found again until the smell of my rotting corpse drew the attention of an unlucky RA.  My very first party I got separated from my friends.  No worries, I was only about 200 feet from my dorm.  I approached a nice young man and asked him to take me to the senior apartments where I knew my friends were.  Well, twenty minutes later we arrived at the senior apartments.  “Hurrah!” You might say, “Clancy reached her destination for once!”  No, silly reader, I did not.  For that is the story of how I slept on a couch in the Harvey Mudd senior apartments, which is, mind you, a completely different college from the one I attend.

Make a Family out of Strangers You Never Expected to Like:

You should see her breakdance. Hint: not Condy
Within the first hour of my orientation experience, before we even left campus, one person had burst into tears, three returning students had run by our group picture stark naked, and our fearless leaders were looking more than a little, well, fearful.  Cue eight hour bus ride to Mammoth Lakes campsite infested with bears.  Hurrah! Three days of not showering, playing Catchphrase, undercooked macaroni, painful “hiking” AKA walking on a paved road for about a mile, rapping “Bitches Ain’t Shit” with acoustic guitar accompaniment, and interrogating our orientation leaders about the infamous Life at CMC.  Somewhere in all that mess I managed to find my best friends (and well, ok, maybe my only friends…) at CMC.  This group of weird kids from all over united by a common love of bro tanks, the economy, and animals with antlers somehow became my weird family away from home.
They’re an interesting bunch.  There’s the girl who helped me survive my Women in Science class (Lesson Plan 1: Women can have jobs!  Lesson Plan 2: Women can have jobs that aren’t cooking!).  The girl who spent a year as my suitemate tolerating my shower crayons, poorly timed dubstep parties for one, and more EasyMac and bologna than a human should physically be able to consume. The guy who appreciates the fact that I refer to South Quad as “Biddy City.”  The girl who wears overalls to parties and tries to breakdance so poorly that strangers look at her, look at me, then mouth “Is she ok!?”  The guy who coined the nickname Clance-ba-dance and has a girlfriend who is a thousand times cooler than he is.  The girl who took one look at my resume, said “Sweet Jesus, did you have a seizure and bang your head on the keyboard until you filled a page?” and then spent an hour helping me fix it.  The guy who, during our orientation, in the game Two Truths and a Lie explained, “I can do a backflip, I can do two front flips, I can’t dance.”  Guess which one was a lie? And yet hestill turned out to be the furthest thing from a douchebag I’ve encountered at CMC.  The girl who spends hours with me on Skype explaining that it’s the Dark Knight not the Black Knight, the intricacies of Bain Capital, and that I should probably get my ass outta bed and get dressed because it’s 12:00 and she wants to go to Scripps brunch dammit.  The orientation leaders who answer questions about all things CMC, explain that yes, beer pong is played with actual beer, and, when you ask, “Wait, what’s a naked lap?” will pat you on the shoulder, shake their head, and say “You’ll find out soon enough!”
And if not frisbee, you WILL play capture the flag

Long story short, don’t stress about beginning freshman year far away from ya mom an pop.  YouWILL embarrass yourself (“A friend of a friend told me Scripps guys are really hot!”)  You WILLmake weird connections with random acquaintances (“That’s so crazy! I totally once parasailed in a lake made of Nickelodeon slime while singing Chumbawamba and juggling seven eggplants too!!  What a coincidence right??”)  YouWILL forget everyone’s name (Thank GOD your name was written on our door, dearest roommate.) You WILL play Frisbee on the quad (“Is this what college students do?  It happens in movies…”)  You WILL miss your parents (“Mom can you send me twenty bucks? And that baby scrapbook that has a lock of my first hair? And a list of reasons why you love me?) And finally, drumroll please, you WILL make friends.  (Hopefully they’re just as weird as the ones I made – shouts out to my WOA crew!) So buy some pong balls, plan your outfit for the first day, and wave goodbye to your parents because it’s time to go to college which, spoiler alert, is absolutely nothing like the real world.

 – Clancy Tripp
July 2012


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