A New View of Orientation

This past weekend, I had the privilege of experiencing Erskine’s Orientation through the eyes of a group leader instead of as a freshman. I was chosen to be an Orientation leader in April, so I spent all summer imagining what my time as a leader would be like and what Orientation would be like as a whole. Needless to say, quite a few expectations accumulated in my mind by the end of the summer. But in order to share my expectations, I first need to tell you the reasons behind my desire to work on the Orientation staff. My reasons were threefold: to make Orientation fun for freshmen, to get a head start on making new friends, and to get more involved at Erskine, because I honestly just love my college. My motives behind Orientation became my expectations for Orientation. Thus, I envisioned a whole new group of friends, the feeling of satisfaction from executing a successful Orientation, and the gradual acclimation to a busy school year at Erskine.

I moved into Erskine a week before the freshmen moved in and immediately began training and preparing for the busiest week of the school year (in my opinion). Everyone on O Staff was exhausted by the Monday before Move In Day, but we pushed through our fatigue and mustered an amazing amount of energy to get everything squared away before Thursday, when the freshmen arrived. Our fearless leader, Kaley Lindquist, the most detail-oriented person that I have ever met, coordinated every part of the weekend. Orientation would not have been the success that it was if it had not been for her dedication and passion for her job.

Orientation staff and volunteers gathered around Erskine's flagpole on Move In Day morning to pray for Orientation.

Orientation staff and volunteers gathered around Erskine’s flagpole on Move In Day morning to pray for Orientation.

All of the freshmen were split into 12 different groups led by various upperclassmen. My friend Ashley and I were in charge of Group 9; and let me just say that our group was the coolest group ever. Our freshmen had such great attitudes about every activity that we did even though they were just as worn out as we were. For example, the groups competed against each other to get the most Spirit Points by the end of Orientation. Our group ran around the Erskine campus, performing different activities to get thousands of Spirit Points. We bought 40+ cokes for Kaley, gave more than 20 sets of flowers to the sweet lady who scans our cards in the cafeteria, and even chased around various staff members for selfies (I hadn’t ever posted so many pictures on Instagram in four days). Unfortunately, we did not win first place; but, we got second place, which was the closest to first place that a group can get! We did so many activities in the span of 4 days, including, but not limited to, sessions, skits, contests, games, community service, and soiree. I would like to share all of the memories that were created from Orientation, but you would have to read pages of content, which would likely become tedious after a while. Not to mention, Orientation flew by so quickly that it is a bit of a blurred memory now.

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Tug of War at Freshman Frenzy

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Dancing the night away at soiree

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I love All My Neighbors

But, all good things must come to an end, and so Orientation had to as well. As I reflect on the fruits that were produced from Orientation, I find myself pleasantly surprised. I was pushed to be more confident, more friendly, more sacrificing, more patient, more loving…the list can go on and on. I became friendlier as I got to know not only a whole bunch of really awesome freshmen, but also, as I grew closer to my Orientation coworkers. They were my family for a week. I changed from only being good friends with a handful of the upperclassmen to growing closer to each person in different ways. Despite being surrounded by strangers again and feeling exhausted from attending the various events, this year was still much more comfortable and fun! I definitely enjoyed Orientation better as a leader than as a freshman. This year’s Orientation did not just meet all of my expectations; it surpassed them. I would encourage anyone who is considering being a part of Orientation to go for it! Orientation gives students a chance to make an impact on people’s lives and to be impacted by others, which I consider to be a really cool life experience.

The O Staff Family

The O Staff family

It’s a Small School

One of the things that you will find if you attend Erskine is that all of the students are very connected. You may not know somebody, but chances are you will know OF them, and at least know a little bit of basic information about almost everybody you will see on a daily basis. People have a wide variety of opinions on this, but I think it is just a fact considering that there are only about 500 students attending Erskine each school year (aka: we go to a small school!)

Students at Erskine are often willing to go great distances to help each other out. I can give you an example for this one: last year on my 21st birthday a bunch of friends and I drove a few hours to Columbia, SC to run in the USMC Mud Run. It was super fun! After about two and a half hours of running, though, we were COVERED in mud! I mean, we were swimming in pits of mud deeper than we are tall, so if we came out looking ready for a tea party people might have been a little creeped out!

I mean it... look at the mud all over us... we were SUPER GROSS!

I mean it… look at the mud all over us… we were SUPER GROSS!

I had asked one of my friends earlier in the month if we could come back to her house in Columbia to take a shower before driving 2-3 hours back to Erskine. She had agreed multiple times, so everyone thought we were all set. So we come out of this race dripping mud and freezing cold and wet and we try to call her, and she doesn’t answer. We stood shivering and dripping mud outside, waiting for her to call back, when she finally texted back about 30 minutes saying we could not come over after all. Everyone panicked… what were we going to do??? (I think it only fair to point out that this friend was not ignoring us on purpose, she was in town to take care of a sick family member and a family emergency came up with another one of her family members that same day, so she was very busy!)

Of course, none of us knew this at the time. All we knew is that we are two and a half hours away from home, cold, wet, and quite uncomfortable! To make a long story short, we ended up calling one of our friends who had graduated from Erskine the previous year and was living in an apartment in Columbia while she attended her first year of med school. She, with absolutely no notice and with finals to study for, let all seven of us smelly students come over to her apartment and take showers one by one in her bathroom. Not only that, Megan took care of us by ordering us pizza and giving us water and towels and soap to scrub all of the mud off! It was one of the sweetest 21st birthday presents a girl could have 🙂

i stole this from her Facebook profile.. so I hope she is not too mad! But this girl is seriously too beautiful for words! :)

i stole this from her Facebook profile.. so I hope she is not too mad! But this girl is seriously too beautiful for words! 🙂

Another one of my favorite memories of Erskine occurred my sophomore year, about a quarter of the way through the year. My boyfriend of about six months had just broken up with me, and as a typical college student I was lying around inconsolable because I thought my life was over… (I am known for being extremely dramatic during times of distress, but don’t feel bad for me, this is just a natural part of life that everyone must get through!) My sweet friend Leighton called me the next day to cheer me up, and invited me to come to the Erskine volleyball game with her.

So Heather, Leighton, and I went to this game when I got a random text message. It from a girl named Kristy, who had been my Orientation Staff leader during my freshmen year at Erskine. The previous year she had a great idea that she was going to surprise some of her friends, including me, by knitting them scarves (it might have been all of her freshmen during O-Staff that she was knitting for… I am not sure!) As great ideas typically go with college students, she had not been able to finish it during the busy school year and so most of us never heard about it that year.

Kristy was a softball player at Erskine :)

Kristy was a softball player at Erskine 🙂

But the next year, my sophomore year, she kept working on it! And right about 2 months into the school year she had finished and was coming to Erskine to attend a sports banquet. She texted me and wanted to know if I would be at the volleyball game, because she had a present to give me. I was a little surprised because she and I had not talked at all since she graduated, so I wasn’t sure if she remembered me. But she did! And she saw me at the game and gave me that scarf she had made and I thought I had never been happier! As an extremely over-dramatic college student, I had been so upset and thinking that no one would ever love me again (wah!) when she came out of nowhere with a handmade scarf she had been working on for months! It was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me while I was at Erskine 🙂

The point that I am trying to make here is that I did not know either one of these sweet girls very well. Both of them were seniors during my freshmen year, and even though Megan was my SLA and Kristy was my Orientation leader, I did not get much of a chance to spend any time with either one of them. Yet both of them, during the most important of times, did something amazingly sweet and kind for me that I will remember for the rest of my life.

These are the kinds of people you meet at Erskine.

Back in the Swing of Things

I am sure this no surprise to any of you, but summer break is officially over! However, while this common fact unites all of us schoolers, my transition between summer break and school is slightly different. As an Erskine College student, I have the opportunity to be involved with so many clubs, societies and activities. One of those that I proudly represent is the Erskine College Orientation Staff, otherwise known as “O-Staff”. Along with the thought, hard work, and unique challenges that come with this position also comes a TON of fun!


The fun begins when we move back to campus about a week before the freshmen even get here! (Yes, I know, moving back to school before you have to just sounds insane). Spending time with friends, fixing up my room, and re-acclimating myself to Erskine life is a joy that I look forward to as I get to do it more than two days before classes start. Throughout the week we hold meetings, work in groups…oh yeah..and this year we played paintball! There is nothing like shooting at 7 of your closest friends, but anyways. All of this planning builds up to the exciting move-in day for freshman where the fun and excitement truly begins. After these new Erskine members say goodbye to their loved ones, O-Staff guides them as they embark on their four year journey in Due West.

So, maybe now the fun and relaxed feel of orientation is over and classes have begun, but the friends made during it are not. Now, I walk around campus and know most of the new freshmen I see along with the new friends I made planning the event.  I honestly feel like I have been here for months, which is a good thing. That is the thing about Erskine, coming back always makes me feel like I am still at home.