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Experience 101: The new student orientation, plus tried-and-true advice from university veterans

After a free lunch of hot dogs, chips, and pop, the orientation moved into classrooms for workshops, where students acquired a boatload of useful information.

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By Kodie Cherrille (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: September 3, 2014

Students gathered in the Envision Athletic Centre for “Experience 101” to kick off this year’s new student orientation.  (Image: Kodie Cherrille/Cascade)

Students gathered in the Envision Athletic Centre for “Experience 101” to kick off this year’s new student orientation. (Image: Kodie Cherrille/Cascade)

Welcome to the next chapter of your life. Please make sure to step out of your comfort zone, engage yourself with the campus community, and have fun while you’re here. Sure, you will do a fair share (and then some) of work and learning in the classroom, but experiencing all that makes UFV such a warm and stimulating place to be depends first and foremost on whether or not you immerse yourself. Take advantage of the extraordinary resources now at your disposal.

These sentiments resounded all day at the new student orientation (NSO), from the opening words of emcee Derek Ward-Hall, the subsequent acknowledgement of Stó:l? grounds, to the warm words of welcome by UFV president Mark Evered, chancellor Brian Minter, and Student Union Society (SUS) president Ryan Peterson. The NSO was held on the Abbotsford campus, from 9 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday August 28.

While Evered and Peterson both explained that their respective positions are here first and foremost for the students (“Let us work with you, and you with us,” Peterson remarked memorably), Minter emphasized the strength of the individual mind. “The questions are more important than the answers,” he explained. “Always challenge things, always be a critical thinker.”DSC_0243

Though the official welcoming was empowering, it was the discussion with the NSO ambassadors that followed that really broke the ice between newcomers. “Experience 101” was a half-hour-long discussion held between ambassadors (themselves seasoned students) and new students, where everyone got to know a little bit about each other. The ambassadors imparted some personal wisdom, too. While handing out maps of the Abbotsford campus, ambassador Panku Sharma pointed out the free places to park. He agreed with the spirit of community put forward by the initial speakers.

“I spent my first year or so going straight to and from class, and I missed out on a lot,” he said. “If you don’t do anything outside of the class, you will make the same mistake.”

Campus tours followed Experience 101, and a service fair opened in the Envision Athletic North Gym from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The philosophy table was simple but effective: a poster board offered a spot for passersby to offer a “philosophical question” in exchange for candy. I was kicking my first-year self when I saw the global development studies table: I would likely have fallen deeply in love with the program’s cross-studies approach that encompasses geography, political science, sociology, and anthropology, among other fields.

After a free lunch of hot dogs, chips, and pop, the orientation moved into classrooms for workshops, where students acquired a boatload of useful information: they learned about their rights and responsibilities as representatives of the university, what to expect in the classroom, the emerging Co-Curricular Record intended to bolster resumés and scholarship applications, and strategies to effectively study and deal with stress.

When the orientation reached its end, the new students walked out into the mild August afternoon, giddy smiles gracing more than a few faces.

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