A couple months into summer vacation, I got an email from Jeanne Dillon, the Tufts advisor to the dual degree program (until her retirement at the end of August). The email read, “We don’t have any dual degree OLs [Orientation Leaders], do you think the freshmen can get downtown on their own?” My first thought: “Well, yes, eventually. It may take a few days.” My second thought: “Gods, I would not want to have to do that as a freshman!” And so, my response: “Wellllll, probably, but I can come back early! I loved OL-ing.” I immediately called my friend Sara, who’d been my partner OL sophomore year, and recruited her to come back with me. Voila! I was an OL once more.
While being an OL is a great adventure in and of itself (advising and guiding new freshmen, while still trying to be an approachable, friendly peer), what I actually want to tell you about occurred before Orientation started. Orientation leader training takes place over about two and a half days. Many of the activities and information sessions are based around reminding you how it feels to be a freshman, and what they’re most likely to need help with. In that vein, one of our tasks was to split into groups and collect 43 photos of us doing typical freshman year things. The prompts ranged from “meeting your roommate for the first time” to “joining a club” and “exploring the stacks in Tisch.” In between inventing amusingly exaggerated photographs (e.g. 10 people plastered across the sidewalk for “homecoming weekend”), I began to actually remember what freshman year felt like.
I remember abject terror at the sheer number of classes I could take. How could I possibly narrow them down to a manageable, logical schedule? I remember awkward mealtimes, still unsure if it was okay to eat alone. I remember the first time I got sick, calling my mom for sympathy. I remember having a roommate, learning what it’s like to share space, be considerate of another’s needs and wants. I really remember starting classes, realizing that I had to exert far more effort than I had in high school to achieve even a fraction of my earlier success. But I also remember how exciting it was to have my own space, to need to rely on myself. I remember trying out for dozens of different clubs, meeting people from all walks of life with a hundred different interests. Freshman year is hard, there’s no two ways about it. But it’s also incredible, exhilarating, a wonderful adventure.
Welcome to the hill, class of 2017!