A Freshman’s perspective on COOT

In my hometown, we’re told that the summer spent between senior year of high school and freshman year of college is supposed to be the most stress-free time of your entire life, where your responsibilities are minimal, and relaxation is the priority.

What I wasn’t told was that trying to relax and enjoy summer is made incredibly difficult by compounding fears and anxieties about college. Endless questions about what my life would look like in the fall were ever-present, and as Aug. 27 approached, I found that those fears and anxieties were the only thing that I could focus on. How am I supposed to start my life over again with a bunch of strangers? How can I meet as many people as possible? What if I never found my people? Who would I eat dinner with on the first day?

Orientation (“O”) Week and the Colby Outdoor Orientation Trips (COOT) answered all of these questions for me. Having two small groups of fellow first years to spend Orientation Week with made the entire process exponentially easier; I was able to meet people in smaller circles then slowly expand into developing larger groups of friends.

It also provided an opportunity to connect with upperclassmen O Leaders, which immediately made me feel more connected to Colby. 

Beyond the social aspects, Orientation  week solidified our transition from high schoolers to college students. From the “first class” experience to presentations about college alcohol and sexual assault policies, every question we had, whether it be about academics, drinking culture or which dining hall is the best (Dana obviously), was answered.

COOT provided a great break from the presentations and “O” group activities. After a weekend spent canoeing on the St. Croix, I can attest that there is no better way to build community than spending time in the outdoors, away from cell phones and any distractions. My COOT group went from a collection of pretty awkward students to an amazingly close group of friends and peers.

We had genuine conversations about who we were as individuals, our similarities and differences and through games like Mafia and Hot-Seat got to know each other on a very deep level. It was a nice change of pace from Orientation Week, where most conversations focus on your name and where you’re from. It made it feel much more confident and secure about my place in the Class of 2023, and the larger Colby community.

While the entire Orientation process was long and incredibly tiring day to day, it completely changed my perspective. Instead of feeling like a prospective student, or even a newly minted first year, I felt like I was a true college student, through and through. The anxieties that had taken over the summer of my senior year disappeared, and I felt completely at home on Mayflower Hill, and ready to take on my first semester.

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