It’s easy to forget that feeling when you step on campus the first time and realize that now, you are in college. Free from high school, free from parents and, well, maybe not free from responsibility. For the class of 2019, the infamous “Vassar Bubble” still hasn’t been totally explored and exploited yet.
Even before people began boarding flights home from vacation or seniors arrived for their last-first day of class, freshmen were on campus for orientation, or “Camp Vassar.” Given five days to break the ice alongside fellow freshmen, many students were split between whether orientation was an efficient experience or an ongoing week of awkward small talk.
Gabi Patick ’19 said, “The orientation schedule provided many opportunities to get to know people, but most of the time the conversation with the people I didn’t know at the events consisted of us talking about the awkwardness of the activity.” With few opportunities to explore Vassar on her own time, Patick added that, “I would have preferred a more open schedule to meet people on my own.”
On the other hand, Patick’s roommate, Lindsay Wolk ’19 commented that freshman orientation helped ease any fears of starting at a new school. Coming from Florida, Wolk said, “I knew I had a lot to learn about Vassar, its campus and traditions, so I really loved the student fellow system. My student fellow (Charlotte Foley) was really helpful throughout the entire week.” She added that she appreciated orientation because it gave her the time to meet new people before the upperclassmen had moved in.
Taking advantage of the lack of mobs at the Deece was another important aspect orientation. Daniel Moskowitz ’19 said that, while the food is not quite a home-cooked meal, having time to get to know the stir-fry station was a huge benefit. He explained, “I’ve fully enjoyed the stir fry station, perhaps a bit too much, but it definitely is my favorite part of the Deece because I love to cook, and it is also reassuring to know exactly what you’re consuming.”
Getting to know the areas around campus helped freshmen orient themselves as well. Moskowitz spoke on behalf of many freshmen who, in terms of orientation, certainly appreciated the Arlington Amble. Moskowitz said, “The scavenger hunt during orientation definitely helped acquaint me with the tastes of the surrounding area off campus.” He added that his fellow group and their adventurous attitudes towards food definitely helped them discover some local dining spots within walking distance.
Even at Camp Vassar, freshmen couldn’t escape the academic side of being in college. As stated by Audrey Pillsbury ’19, “My advisor was really helpful and definitely calmed down my stress levels about selecting a manageable, but still challenging range of courses.” Pillsbury added that her advisor, Sociology Professor Carlos Alamo, teaches in the department that she could potentially major in down the road. On the other hand, a freshman that would rather remain nameless was a bit confused as to why she had an Africana Studies Professor as her pre-major advisor when she had expressed an interest in biology. “This made the process a bit more difficult,” She shared. “At the same time, I was happy to learn about a department and courses that I never would have considered if I wasn’t assigned to my specific advisor,” She went on to say.
Regardless of the experience, somehow everyone survives the registrar and their first week of classes. Or so we hope.
Getting around campus proved to be challenging for many. Lauren Caporilli ’19 explained, “It took me a lot longer to get to places than I expected.” Living in Jewett, Caporilli said, “Even though Rocky is right across the quad from my dorm, it’s still a five minute walk and that is if you are walking fast.” Caporilli knows to give herself a little extra time to avoid the rush or make a wrong turn, now. “One day, I was on the phone and wasn’t paying attention and walked right into Rocky thinking it was my dorm,” She added.
Aside from the timing and inevitable distractions, Caporilli and many other freshmen have found Vassar and its campus to be quite manageable. In fact, she said, “I got lost so much more freshman year of high school and that was only in one building.”
Once everyone was back on campus, many freshmen feel both excited and intimidated for their first glimpse of the Vassar social scene. To stay in the dorms, head to the THs or maybe hit up a TA?
Yvette Segan ’19 said that, for the most part, she and her friends simply wandered around to figure out where to go. She got some accidental help one night after bumping into a group of freshman walking in the same direction as her and her friends.
Segan said, “They turned out to be on the lacrosse team which led us to our first official TH party a few days later at the lacrosse house.” She went on to say, “We never had to search that hard to figure out what the party scene was like because so many freshmen somehow already seemed to know which THs were hosting events.”
It doesn’t hurt to come in knowing a few familiar upperclassmen faces, however. Freshman year is a time for exploring not just who you want to be academically, but also socially. Wether it’s your first-first day or last-first day at Vassar College, there is always more to keep an eye out for.