To reference Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: it is universally acknowledged that a first-year university student in want of friends ought to attend frosh week.
The stereotypes of frosh week never appealed to me—loud, drunk parties are not my idea of fun. But King’s orientation week appeared to be different, with promises of poetry readings and coffee meetups and opportunities to become best friends with your fellow FYPsters. After waiting more than two years to start King’s, to leave my rural Nova Scotia hometown behind and make friends with people who were bookish rather than farm-ish, this frosh week sounded vaguely appealing.
My frosh week was not the magical week of bonding, friend-making, or memory-making it seemed to be for everyone else. It was frustrating, lonely, and I grieved the $60 that basically bought my frosh pack. Most of my week was spent either at my apartment or with old high school friends who lived in the city.
The biggest thorn in the hide of my frosh week was that I was one of fewer than 60 day students, a stark minority among the residence students. I lived five kilometres from campus, a bus ride that ranged from 20 to 50 minutes. I was new to the city and new to bussing and most of the frosh events that I wanted to attend took place after nine p.m. and ran until ten or eleven.
Even with the frosh van—which is a really good idea, please keep the frosh van—activities that took place at night were much less accessible. The day students, unless they quickly buddied up with someone in residence, had nowhere to stay if they wanted or needed to spend the night. I felt out of place, outnumbered, and invisible.
By the second day of frosh week, all the residence students had paired up with their roommates, their floors, their bays, running off to the dorms between activities. This left day students to wander around the empty campus until we haphazardly ran into each other. I think we all grew to recognize the lost gaze and heavy backpack of fellow day students pretty quickly and we greeted each other with a sympathetic, “Day student?”
The divide between residence and day students became more contrasted as the week wore on, the residence students making fast friends with those they lived with, and day students making tentative bonds over the woes of buses before heading home in different directions. You could argue I didn’t try hard to enough to befriend residence students or didn’t take advantage of the late-night activities via frosh van. But I’m an introvert, and by day three of shaking the hands of people who ran off with their floormates two minutes later, I was discouraged and exhausted.
I don’t blame the frosh coordinators for my less-than-amazing frosh week, and I don’t begrudge those who sang the praises of frosh for the rest of the year. I do think it is important to recognize that frosh is not a universal experience of friendship, euphoria, and social wonder. [pullquote]Frosh can be disappointing. It can be lonely. It can wreak havoc on your social anxiety. It can forget about you. [/pullquote]
If there were attempts at making activities more accessible to day students by having events earlier in the day, or events specifically for day students, perhaps my frosh would have been different. If there had been more events for introverts and those with social anxiety, if there had been an atmosphere other than Hey We’re All Experiencing the Same Thing and it’s Freaking Great WOOHOO! perhaps my frosh would have been different.
Take advantage of what you can, according to your commute and comfort level. Frosh week doesn’t have to be the perfect introduction to your university experience. It doesn’t have to be the peak of your King’s glory days.
If you feel like you missed out on making friends because everyone was off partying in the yurt, wait until classes start. You’ll start to find the people who stayed in their apartments and dorms watching Netflix and reading Jane Austen.