Twenty days ago I loaded up my car and drove two and a half hours west to Schenectady, New York. It feels like it was so much longer than that now, because everything has fallen completely into place and I feel completely at home here. It’s amazing how many things I’ve done and people I’ve met in such a short time. I really haven’t been homesick at all, and most people feel the same way.
My first day was the first day of Community Service Pre-Orientation. I highly highly recommend this program to anyone who is coming to Union. You get to come to school early, make a few friends before everyone else, find all the interesting places in Schenectady, and you get to actually meet the community. The next day my group (led by the best group leader Bianca), went to Roots and Wisdom where we helped harvest tomatoes, sunflowers, onions, ground cherries, and even more vegetables I don’t even remember.
The next day we helped sort through donated clothes and shoes and we especially spent time putting together shoes for people in Haiti. On the last day, and arguably my favorite, we worked with Schenectady Arc, which is an organization dedicated to assisting adults with developmental disabilities. They really do so much for our community, and so when they asked us to help break ground for a new patio with pickaxes and shovels we gladly put our gloves on. It was so rewarding helping build a patio so that one of the men who uses a wheelchair in the organization could be in the backyard and enjoy the fresh air.
Pre-O was one of the best decisions I have made so far. We did so much more than I mentioned but to really understand how great it is, you have to actually come be a part of it.
Orientation was interesting coming in because I already felt pretty acclimated into life at Union. I had at least twenty people who I knew enough to hang out with or sit with at dinner. I didn’t love the large group activities all the time because it felt a lot like the summer camps I had gone to almost every year for a very long time, but I think there were some points where we would bond over the fact that we had to do a silly icebreaker. I guess that’s the point. I didn’t really find my “people” until the end of orientation and honestly that’s not a bad thing. I met a lot of people and ultimately I got to see what kind of people I want to spend my time with. Orientation is about learning what your school has to offer so that you’re happy and safe for all four years you’re calling Union home. It’s also a nice workout and my FitBit proudly told me that I walked well over a marathon in less than a week.
One thing about orientation: go to see all the speakers. Go. You will be tired and you won’t want to go. You pretty much have to, and I promise your orientation advisor is not trying to just keep you going for 24 hours straight. One speaker was Mike Green, who was very powerful but also entertaining. He had a lot of relevant things to say about alcohol and how our society doesn’t drink alcohol the right way. The other, and probably one of the best I have seen, was Joshua Fredenburg. He had a great message about leadership and diversity and was extremely engaging.
Classes have started now and I’m finally dealing with time management, figuring out where the best study spots are, and how exactly I’ll navigate the next four years. Pre-O and Orientation definitely helped set me on the right foot to really dive into my life at Union.