Summer Orientation Adventures at U of M
Starring kaytay

It all started three days ago…

Due to several factors including the climate and other miscellaneous and equally uncontrollable things, my orientation experience was slightly polluted. However, if one were to ignore the fact that it was over 100ºF in the dorms and humid as the depths of hell, I might be able to say I enjoyed myself. I met several amazing individuals, most of whom are smarter than me. This is not something I’m used to. Putting modesty aside for the moment, I know I am a very intelligent person. I’m not used to being in a place where other people my age are easily at or very close to, sometimes higher than, my level of understanding. I could get very used to this.

I woke up at four in the morning in order to drive the two and a half hours to Ann Arbor, MI from my hometown of Tulip World. Thanks to favorable driving conditions and a lack of fellow speed demons, I made it to my destination in record time. Driving east into the sunrise can be a challenge though. At times you are completely blinded and forced to slow down to about 100mph so as not to run into something without the knowledge of doing so. I was able to be patient. The sun is our friend, after all.

Upon arrival in , I was promptly lost. Despite my frequent visits over the past two years, I still cannot find my way around downtown without a map of some sort. I decided I needed to go right off of Liberty onto Division. Unfortunately I did not notice the large ONE WAY signs posted at the intersection. I turned straight into oncoming traffic.

I survived, obviously. My car did too. I simply pulled into the nearest driveway and got myself flipped about and facing the correct direction before a head-on collision could happen. Quick thinking on my part! I think I scared several drivers, though. More power to me. I am used to seeing people drive down River leaving downtown Holland in the wrong direction. As long as you’re free. And as long as there’s no police around.

I eventually found a safe route to the parking garage on Thompson and Division. Found a parking space on the fourth level and made my way over to South Quad. The line was not yet terrible, seeing as how I was exactly on time – 8am on the button. Waited in a few lines, learned what it meant to overheat, got some keys and an armload of booklets and papers, then headed up to my room to drop stuff off. I was on the fifth floor and a slave to the elevator. There was no way I would have used the stairs in that kind of heat. Just walking slowly was enough to make me lightheaded. My temperature tolerance is not the most impressive.

The orientation session I was a part of just happened to be during the last week of such things. The staff went with a Hawaiian theme to celebrate the ending of a long summer filled with freshmen and dorm living. It was cute.

Metse, Jessica, Steve, Adam and Katie were our student leaders. All were very polite most of the time. They led us through the boring rituals that they enjoyed even less than we did after having to perform them for months already. Somehow their enthusiasm managed to rival that of the arriving new students despite the heat. I suspect they were excited to finish with their duties.

We did the usual tour, icebreakers, and miscellaneous activities that included wonderful leftover summer dorm food and walking through a fountain. We were granted a night of freedom starting at 9:30 in the evening. I gathered the friends I had made and we paraded down the street towards the movie theatre and Ben & Jerry’s. On the way there we ran into quite a commotion involving seven police cars and several canine units. Being the inquisitive young students we are, we walked straight into the middle of it in hopes of finding out what was happening. We were asked to leave before learning much of anything, sadly enough. A nice woman officer asked us rather abruptly to cross the street and “carry on.”

Out of 115 orientation kids, I managed to find myself sitting next to the one who had recently been released from the hospital after having been there for a year. She had had heart failure thanks to an old friend of mine. She carried pictures in her purse of herself at seventy-five pounds, and eagerly displayed them to any who asked. I told her I had been in the same situation, to which she immediately became curious as to how much I weighed upon admission to the hospital. I told her. She stopped smiling after that.

The rest of the three days consisted of her approaching me to talk about how terribly sick she had been, how she absolutely loved to get up and run at five in the morning every day, how she worshipped diet coke and how many laxatives she had been in the habit of taking each day. I told her I have been recovered for two years and counting, with minor relapses amounting to nothing but a stronger will to stay healthy. I don’t think she understood I word I was saying.

The rest of the orientation activities were of no consequence. I registered for classes that were not my first choice, but I was not expecting to get into everything I wanted. I am second on the wait list to get into Japanese I. I also registered for French 231, the only french class that fit into my schedule. When the year starts, I’ll ask the prof about transferring into something a little more on my level. If it’s not possible, than I shall simply have an incredibly easy A to boost my soon-to-come GPA.

The entire orientation experience was worthwhile. I met so many nice people, with only a few exceptions. While I was walking past the Union one night, I saw a little girl sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. I recognized her from my orientation group, so I sat down with her and some other kids. She has alopecia universalis and is so incredibly not concerned with it that I find her to be absolutely charming. After half an hour of sitting (baking) on the sidewalk, she and I were in the habit of informing all those who passed of the fact that she was sitting in the middle of the street on her perch on the floor, and later that she was a little sprite that flits sitting in the middle of the street on her perch on the floor. This all arose from the fact that she is taking organic chemistry her first semester (she’ll be going into pre-med) and has not been too keen on developing her english usage skills. Nonetheless, it was an exciting evening.

Another girl I met, named Sharifa, is from Atlanta, GA. She has a full ride scholarship based on her abilities in the long jump and hurdle events. She’s very sweet, very strong, and very excited to be at Michigan. A lot of the other people I met are from New York, paying their hefty $30,000 per year to attend the most expensive state-supported school in the entire United States of America. What an accomplishment.

Happy twenty-second anniversary to my parents.