September 8, 2014

DUGGAL | I Have Enough Quartercards To Redecorate Your Room and Mine

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It’s true, I do. Get in touch with me and, for a small fee, I’ll tack them up all over your walls. It’ll make you feel like you truly belong here at Cornell, and your roommate will love them too, I promise. And while I’m stabbing tiny holes in your walls, we can introduce ourselves and talk about things neither of us will ever remember in a week or so — like where we’re from and what college we’re in and our majors. Doesn’t sound like your idea of a fun time? Well, maybe orientation isn’t for you either then.

Of course, everyone’s orientation experiences are different. It would be a mistake to assume that orientation was a week of forcefully fun activities for everyone in the same way that it would be a mistake to assume that orientation was a week of lifelong friendships and laughs for everyone. But, like most other things, there is a certain middle ground that many people seem to agree with when it comes to O-week: it wasn’t real life. Between the insanely long lines at the Big Red Blowout (I think that’s what it was called) and the even longer wait at Schoellkopf (how the hell do you pronounce this) Field for the Class of 2018 picture, O-week activities lacked a sort of substance. They pulled us into a little freshman bubble, where everyone smiles while making meaningless small talk and people pretend to care far more about your major than you ever will. Orientation was safe; it was a time that allowed us to get comfortable with the campus, the people and of course, the many acronyms. But it wasn’t real. It didn’t prepare us for the college that hits as soon as the first week of classes begins.

Don’t get me wrong — Cornell had one of the best orientation weeks of all time. I wouldn’t change a thing about my O-week even if I could. While my high school friends were sitting through cliché hypnotist shows at their colleges, my school was giving out free breakfast at midnight. And yes, Tapestry was really late at night and we all slept through most of it, but at least we aren’t forced to take a required course on community building. And if all else failed, there was always chocolate milk in the dining halls to remind us why we came here.

But while the best thing to do during O-week may have been to allow yourself to be swept up in the craziness of it all, the best thing to take away from O-week might be to remember that it was only a week. Of all the people I’ve been introduced to and exchanged names with, the only people I’ve cared enough to remember are the people I met in entirely random situations. Like the girl I usually get lunch with? We almost burned down Balch Hall together (by accident) the first week of the semester. And the most memorable times I’ve had all week are the ones that 1) I can actually remember and 2) make me excited to spend the next four years here. O-week represented a transition for me, a week for me to take in everything new and to get pumped about finding the things I genuinely care about. Moving on from O-week means moving onto the rest of my college experience and taking on what Cornell really has to offer.

Hebani Duggal is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Teach Me How to Duggal appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.