The First Three Days.

August 30, 2008

Well, I just finished my first FOUR orientation days at Swat! (I’ve had to change that from “first day” to “first three days” to “four days” because it’s taken me so long to get an entry written!)

As you can glean from my previous entry, I did not get a lot of sleep. So miserably, I got in the car with my parents, said bye to the cats, and went to Swat. It was the first time I had actually seen the campus with students, and it was completely buzzing. 

We went to Willets first so I could unload all my stuff. As soon as I got out of the car, I heard someone say my name, and it was Charlotte! That’s the joy of Facebook at a small school, the odds were on my side that the first person I would see, I had already “met” on Facebook.

After dumping everything in the room, we headed to Parrish to get my room key and mailbox key. My mailbox is on the very top, so I can’t actually ever see if I have mail, but oh well. My parents got their little parents’ weekend goody bag, and we continued on, walking around the campus. On the way out of Parrish, we saw Jeanie, who I had also “met” on Facebook. After getting my student ID card at the Benjamin West house, I went back into Parrish for something, then went onto Parrish Beach to meet my CA group. Esther and Anna were really great, we sat around in a circle and had a getting-to-know-you exercise (nothing as horrifying as some of the stories the transfers told me about what they had to do in with their floors…but that’s for another time), and having Q & A. Even though we were missing three or four people, we were still the biggest CA group by far. While compared to other schools sixteen doesn’t sound like a record number of transfer students, it does certainly feel as if we’ve cultivated our own little community.

After the Beach Q & A, we went with all of the other new students to LPAC for our welcome into Swarthmore. Dean of Admissions Jim Bock spoke, giving us all sorts of weird statistics that you don’t usually hear about the student body. Anna had warned us that it would be depressing, hearing “Class of 2012” fifty times a day, but it was actually better than I expected. Obviously, the focus was on the freshmen, but we transfers certainly got our due as well.

The first night was even better than I could have imagined. Charlotte and I get along great, and we had dinner with our RA Grant and the rest of the Willets 1st south side. Then we had a game of all-dorm Quizzo. It was alright, I didn’t feel like I contributed all that much, but my team still won. Jeanie and Rayan then busted into the Willets basement where we all were to break Charlotte and I out of the floor activity. The four of us walked around the Swat campus, found a great swing at Hallowell that we agreed felt like, “a great first date…with a pilot”.

Wednesday was pretty good too. I was pretty tired when I got up, because we had to meet on Parrish Beach at 8:45 in the morning. We went into Kohlberg and met with Martin Warner, the registrar, and Dean Garikai Campbell, who actually also graduated with my dad. (It’s a little weird meeting with someone at my college whose college graduation I attended at two months old…but also very cool.) After the transfer meeting, we went to the all inclusive new students meeting. It was a little redundant, but I think probably the most satisfying thing about orientation is that no matter what we’re attending, the faculty running it always are sure to tell us how wonderful we are, how worthwhile, how deserving of this experience.

After a Sharples lunch with Jeanie and Rayan, I went to the dreaded math placement test with Charlotte, Jasper, and Ted. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, and, as I thought, I scored into the lowest math class. No big deal.

Then off to the Ware Pool for the swim test! I went with Jeanie and Rayan, and we started off very slowly on the laps. It turns out, that actually takes more energy, so do the laps normally, and then drift around on your back otter style. And the pool did something weird to our ears, we were all very dizzy, and probably had pretty massive swimmer’s ear. But we passed! So is the light at the end of the placement test tunnel.

And then, after Sharples dinner, we had First Collection! It was beautiful. Yes, I know, I’ll be mocked relentlessly by “the group” for saying that, but I thought it was amazing. We listened to President Al Bloom speak, then the mayor of Swarthmore. All you sleep deprived future First Collection-goers need to take a little catnap at that point…it goes on preeeeetty much forever. But then, a professor spoke, Professor Rick Valley. He was an alum from ’75, and lo and behold, he was a transfer! I was really happy about that, I felt like not only did Swat take a record number of transfer students, but they actually made the orientation process very transfer centered. And then, the student speaker, Jess Engebretson was also a transfer! It was really fantastic, and I have great pictures up on Facebook. Please take a look if you’re into First Collection, they’re great.

And then we were free! We roamed all over, gathered a posse (consisting of Rayan, Jeanie, Charlotte, Eric, and honorary transfers aka freshmen Ted and Jasper). We found a Swat shopping cart, I got in, and Eric and Jasper carted me around at mach speed terrorizing innocent pedestrians. Things became less funny when we put Jeanie in the cart, because I was in charge of pushing her around. I let go too early, she spun off into the construction, and only a quick duck of the head kept her from a deadly decapitation. However, things became less deadly and more fun when we defected to the tree on the path from Mertz to Parrish, and all climbed up into it. We had at least five people in the tree at all times, and whenever people walked past, we would all yell, “Help meeee,” in this weird inflection that was intentionally reminiscent of the fire alarm that goes off in the town of Swarthmore from time to time. Surprisingly, no one really looked! I mean, if there were five people in a tree yelling “Help meeee”, wouldn’t you look?!

After the tree, we prowled around campus. Eventually the group reduced to me, Ted, Jeanie, and Eric. As we wandered around Wharton, we found James, a 2011 CA leader who lives in Hallowell. So we went up with him at the promise of fruit snacks, and talked about every major war involving the US besides maybe WWI and Korea, finally making it back around 4:30.

I got up around ten thirty, thanks to my awesome Charlotte alarm clock. I found my advisor’s office, and though he was out of town, ended up having a really nice talk with another woman in the Poli. Sci. department who really helped me a lot. She managed to talk me down from the Stat ledge, and convince me to take something a little lighter. Then Rayan and I went to Parrish, attempted to set up a bank account for him, and failed because federal credit unions apparently suck for foreign students. We went out on the beach, got our free mugs and free ice cream, and hit the bookstore! I bought an alarm clock (which doesn’t wake me up, so that should be interesting), and then Rayan took a nap, and I fiddled in my room with stuff. The whole posse met up for the BBQ outside of Sharples, and then all but Charlotte and Rayan got roped into watching the LPAC play. Any transfers and freshman that can…skip it. Seriously, seriously skip it. That is all I’m going to say.

We made some stops at our various dorms, vowed to skip Barack Obama’s speech, and found a wandering freshman by the name of Michael outside Hallowell. We immediately adopted him, and headed for the tree. We also converted Greg, a junior transfer from Georgtown into our sect of transfers. AND I FOUND OUT HE’S A GEORGE MICHAEL FAN!!!!! Fantastic. Then we got yelled at by some students that tree climbing is a $500 fine, made a freshman connection in David Kemp, and stayed up ridiculously late, eating ramen that fell on the Willets floor.

Friday, I went to the departmental fair with Charlotte and Lauren. I wasn’t originally going to go, but I’m really glad that I did because I found a soc/anth class that I’m going to take instead of stat. Then Sharples, where Charlotte, Rayan, Jeanie and I all had our laptops out and ready to go in order to register as soon as the clock struck one. I was very fortunate in that I got all of my classes, no problem! I went back to the dorm, attempted to blog, then got distracted by the free plant giveaway, and then Jeanie came in to ask if I would go to Target. So Jeanie, Charlotte, Jasper, Ted, and I all went to Target and bought lots and lots of stuff. Later that night, we got EVERYONE into my room (that’s the Target people + Rayan, Michael, Greg, and Eric…it’s becoming a lot, I know) and played with the Willets cat while making a fort out of Charlotte and my bunked beds.

Then at about 10:30, in the dark and the rain, we got roped into doing the trust walk. It took forever to get from Parrish to the bonfire at the Crum Woods, and then we got smores, so I guess that was worth it. I don’t know, don’t go if you’re vegan, there’s nothing for you to eat, and that kind of sucks. We ran back to Hallowell in the rain, watched the Birdcage, and then Greg, Michael, Ted, and I hung out in Rayan’s room watching Youtube shit until 5:30 in the morning.

So all in all, it’s been a great week. I’m friends with more transfer students than anyone else right now, but I feel great (besides the obvious digestive stress of eating at Sharples). Sorry for the huge blog, it’s just been DAYS since I could really write anything, and so much has happened! Hopefully what everyone can get from this entry is that orientation for transfers and freshmen alike is a really unique and rewarding experience where you can really begin to find your niche and form bonds.

Now I’m off to Philly with the whole posse! I’ll write again after the Silly Hat Dance.

The Transfer Student


One Response to “The First Three Days.”

  1. lisetteder Says:

    no, first collection was really cool and very pretty (and also satisfactorily transfer-friendly!). the occasional leaf drifting towards the amphitheater ground made it exceptionally picturesque. that’s the sort of image that stays clear in your memory forever.

    the moral of this entire blog is: never allow yourself to be pushed around on a shopping cart if your senses are impaired in any way, and especially not on the swarthmore campus, where they like to string many slim ropes along every pathway. you will die.

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