Back when I first heard about Orientation Week, I didn’t really know what it meant and even though a few examples of activities were given, I couldn’t actually imagine what it was like. If you're a first year student, you will undoubtedly be hearing a lot about the week from enthusiastic upper years as move-in day draws closer. That being said, I will add my own commentary of it, to sum it all up, and maybe even give you a different perspective. So here is Orientation Week, the good and bad, the myth and reality.
Orientation Week (or OWeek for the more seasoned Gaiter) begins with group registration. Since the incoming class is so large activities cannot be organized for everyone to have fun on such a large scale, so we are divided into 20 groups. You get to pick which group you are in and this takes place on campus, where all the groups gather at tables, with leaders trying to convince you to join theirs. It doesn’t really matter which one you chose. All groups will offer the same service: a week of non-stop fun. Once you join a group, be sure to love it like a religion. OWeek is a competition between the different groups and you will be fighting your team’s pride for the next week.
Since OWeek is a competition, it also requires the presence of a large number of judges, who will be attributing points to teams based on what they can accomplish during special OWeek events.
You’ll get events such at the opening night Pep Rally, the judges’ campus tour, the night-time Scavenger Hunt and field day, which all involve accomplishing crazy and fun challenges from the judges to earn points for your team (depending on how good you are you can get 1, 2 or 3 points for each mission). Be reassured that everything is done in good fun, and that while some things are daring, no one will be forced to do anything and at no point is anyone humiliated. Then, if you’re willing to go the whole distance more power (and points) to you. An award will be given to the best group on the final night.
Besides all the fun, OWeek week is also about getting you started on your school year and so you’ll also get some events of a more serious nature. Anyone who is planning on staying at BU for more than a year (non-exchange students) must pass a test called the English Writing Proficiency exam (EWP) before they graduate. You will sit this test after move in weekend, before you have taken any classes. This is about making sure you know how to write a basic paper in English. It is not meant to trap you. Consider it this way: if you’re good enough to pass the test, no worries; if you fail, then you will be able to get the help you need to improve your writing skills right away, so that you know how to write your papers later in the semester. The actual exam subject gives you about five essay topics, in the form of questions. Pick the one that inspires you the most and discuss it, like you learned to do in high school.
On the next day, you get Academic Orientation in the morning, where many important people from the school’s Academic board (Principal, VP, Dean of Education etc.) will talk to the incoming class, before representatives from each department take their respective students to a classroom to give them specific information about their majors and profs. As always with BU, this is done in light-spirit and good humor, so even if it asks you to get up before noon, you don’t need to worry about it being boring.
The following day, classes will actually begin, so be ready. You don’t want to start off the year by missing a class, nor to forget that you came to study. I’ve only had three classes so far, so I’ll comment more on how classes go at BU in a future post.
We had a few lectures throughout our OWeek. The first was in opening night, where an alumnus came to tell his inspirational BU story. The second, later in the week was the infamous “Sex With Sue”. Coming from France, I had never heard of Sue and her TV show, so imagine my surprise at this 70+ year old woman, talking to us about sex. Sue Johanson makes it her mission to talk about sex in an open way, and tell us everything that sex-ed never told us… the interesting stuff. It had the value of being true to her word, in that we all left thinking: this is what they should have said in high school. Plus, it’s a little old lady, who has a devilish sense of humor; what’s not to like?
Each year, a concert is given on the Quad, to kick off the year in musical style. Last year’s guests were Juno award winning Arkells – if you haven’t heard of them, look them up, because they are surely one of the most relevant acts I have listened to in a while. Rocking to their great music, the incoming class had a blast!
THERE IS LIFE AFTER OWEEK
I want to close up with a less spoken part of OWeek: what happens beyond it. Most of us have just had an amazing week and are sad to see it come to an end. That being said, I think the idea that OWeek is going to be the best week of your life is an overrated one. To me that seems to say that the University experience (and life in general) is all downhill from here, when in fact it’s the opposite: OWeek will only be what leads us into this amazing college life we get from BU, and if you feel that Orientation Week was the best week of your life, I challenge you to keep that statement true throughout the next four years, let alone the rest of your life.
I also want to stress that there is no harm in skipping OWeek festivities. Being in the International student crowd, a lot of people I know are not directly out of high school and have already had similar orientation week activities in the past. So, while we went to most events cheering the team and partying like there was no tomorrow, some of my favorite moments in the week also happened during what I like to call counter-frosh – moments when we decided to stay in and watch movies, or just hang out in someone’s dorm room for a few hours. While I can definitely be the life of the party every now and then, I do get tired of it on repetition and if you’re anything like that, be sure that you’ll find others to chill with on any given night.
That closes up my OWeek recap, which I hope was enough to give you an overall panorama of what Orientation week is like. I think it’s safe to say that no matter who you are and what your background is, you will be sure to find your place at BU during Orientation Week.
This is an update of an article written on the uBishops.ca blog. The post can be found in it's original form here.