I’m a freshman (faculty freshman!)

Heidi has graciously been writing awesome blogs with helpful hints and ideas for a most excellent start to fall. During that time, Cindi has been moving! I have moved from a mid-sized comprehensive regional university to a large public university (with over 55,000 students)! It is like being a new student all over again, except I’m faculty. Over the next few blogs, I will be sharing with you the things I am doing and thinking about as I learn all about my new university, how to figure out where things are, and how to do things. I hope it resonates with some of you who are also new students — new to the institution or new to being a college student.

I was required to attend a new faculty orientation (sound familiar?! Yes, they even make faculty do that!). I had to wear a name tag, sit at a group table, talk to strangers, and listen to various speeches tell me about my new home. To be honest: I was a bit resistant. But, I found the people at my group table were just like me! They had just recently moved from somewhere else; they didn’t know much about what was happening and they were friendly! More importantly, we all shared stories about getting lost on campus. Apparently, totally and completely normal! By the end of the day, I had figured out how to sign up for health care, who some of my new hallway buddies were going to be (I met other newly hired people in my department), and felt more relaxed and confident about my new institution.

Oh, and, the President gave a speech which was quite inspiring and encouraging. He shared his vision of the university with us; and, it was a vision that made sense and seemed exciting. He ended his talk by reminding us why we were all there: because students matter. This was an idea I could easily embrace.

The orientation reacquainted me with people I had met a year prior when I had come to the campus for a tour. The orientation made it so much easier for me to go to work the following week, walk into the Department office and easily connect with the folks there.

This is exactly why the institution has orientations (for new faculty, new students, and new staff) — even though they can be uncomfortable and somewhat annoying at the outset, there really is a reason to them: but, we must be open to that reasoning.

Think back to your orientation if it already happened — don’t worry about the loads of information they gave you — you can always look that up online, call someone, or find someone to ask. But, try to recall the feeling of togetherness and of belonging to something new — that is what orientation is about. Try to recall the feeling of connectedness that was present. Embrace that feeling. Throw yourself into a spirit of being connected. It’ll make the coming months much easier.

More on connectedness next time.

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