Sunday, June 21, 2015

Orientation at University of West Florida 2015

I must warn y'all before you start reading this post that it is going to be pretty long. I just couldn't help myself this time!

 Okay.... what the heck Jamie!? Why are you turned backwards! Anyways, this was my group for orientation. 
These last five days have been super busy for me. It started out as a normal weekend on Friday. I drove myself to piano lessons, then went to teach a piano lesson. I filled up my gas tank, went to the bank and ran a few errands... I don't remember what they were but almost every Friday without fail I have something I have to go do. Saturday came and I woke up at 5 am to get ready to volunteer at a run that was going on in Pensacola called the Run 4 Hope. All proceeds from the run go to Christian charity organizations. My younger brother Levi decided to participate in the 5K run so he slapped on his boots and blue jeans and came along with us. My mom and I were working at a water booth at the one mile mark with other folks from our church. I've never volunteered at a run before so this was a fun new experience for me.


After the run there were food and drinks available for everyone and booths with information about the ministries the run was supporting. There was also a chin up bar where a competition got started to see who could do the most. I had fun cheering and watching everyone's neck muscles bulge and their faces turning red. The highest count was twenty two! Levi did eleven.

After the run I went to the farmers market and bought zucchini, cucumber, a cantaloupe, corn, and a spaghetti squash. After the market I stopped at Reynold's Music House in downtown Pensacola, did a little shopping at Target and TJ Max, then met up with Mom, Dad, and two of my younger brothers to go to the same adoption picnic we attended a year ago before we had met my four foster brothers. (I mention it briefly in this post here.) This time it was at the beach so we had a lot of fun.

After the picnic I was dropped back off to my car because I had to pick up some contact solution which I had forgotten to get earlier in the day. When I finally got home the day was almost over but I spent about an hour going through the music for church the next day.

Sunday morning came and I accidentally got up a half hour earlier than I needed to. *sad face*. Sunday's are normally pretty tiring for me but this Sunday was especially exhausting. After church everyone rushed out of the building as quickly as possible because everyone was going to head over to the Smith's house for a big summer fish fry/going away party for the Anderson family. The food and drinks were delicious, and we had all sorts of fun playing in the water. I went kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding and jet skiing. There were other things to do like playing ring toss, giant hula hoops, knee boarding, and getting pulled behind the boat on the biscuit and trying not to get knocked off. I pushed little kids on the swings and showed them interesting creatures you could find in the rocks and sand/muck of the bay.

This is downstairs at the Smith's house. Their home is raised up on stilts so there is plenty of space below for ping-pong, foosball, pool, a mini basketball hoop, Mr. Ron's shop, and plenty of storage for water toys and floats and what not.
When the party was over we didn't leave... my parents kept on talking. The sun had long since went to bed and I desperately wanted to follow. Alas, I was stuck there with no bed in sight. I mean, I like a good party, but you can't stay forever! When we finally got in the van to head home I said in a pitiful voice "I sure hope I don't have orientation tomorrow!"


Well when we got home first thing I did was to go check my calendar. I opened up my book and looked into June. The words "Orientation UWF 7am" were scribbled across Monday and Tuesday. As soon as my eyes saw that they filled with water and I could feel a wail welling up inside of me. I told myself not to do it but it was no use. I burst into tears and started sobbing as I curled up into the fetal position. "I have orientation tomorrow!" I bawled uncontrollably on my sisters bed. Levi asked me, "Lydia, are you really crying?" but I was so distraught that I couldn't even answer. When Savannah saw that I wasn't going to stop any time soon she rushed off to go get Mom. Mom came and put my head in her lap and stroked my hair and tried to console me. Through my crying piece by piece I got out a few sentences. "I'm too tired!" "I have to pack!" "I thought orientation was Tuesday-Wednesday.... But it's actually Monday-Tu-u-uessdaaayy!!!" Tears turned my face into a slip-n-slide and snot oozed out of my nose. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Somehow I managed to calm down. I had to forward the email to Mom that had all the information about orientation but when I couldn't find my computer right away I almost broke down again. It took me twice as long to pack because I could hardly think at that point. When I was finally finished I went to the refrigerator and pulled out the Fat Tire beer that I had been looking forward to all evening. I sat in the dining room drinking my beer, rubbing aloe-vera on my sister's sunburned shoulders, and swapped stories with my siblings and parents, as we often do late at night, about the party. I managed to finish my beer before it got warm and then I went off to bed feeling at least a little better.

The next morning I got up at 5:45 and got ready to go. On the way out the door I grabbed a glass of ice coffee left over from the batch Mom had made for the party the day before, and my dear mother and I headed off to the University of West Florida. By then I was completely recovered from the despair of the previous night and I was excited to see what orientation was like.

We had a little trouble finding out where to go but we got through check in on time. I forgot to take our check in slip though to the place where we get our room key and by the time I discovered my mistake we had already left the check in and were at the Center for Fine Performing Arts where the first part of orientation was going on. I had to run back and get my key and then rush back to building 82. I missed the very first few minutes but it turned out okay. First thing, Mom told me I should sign up for the Student Alumni Association so I did. The lady I was talking to was very friendly and enthusiastic. She told me she liked my smile and that my eyes had a special sparkle to them and that she could tell I was going to be a leader. After the presentation in the Auditorium the students and parents were split up. The students were spilt into even smaller groups after that, I was in group 6 called the Teal Tasmanians.

It's hard to remember what order events happened in after that. There were so many long presentations that we had to sit through. They told us everything under sun the about college and hardly any of it has stuck in my head. When we weren't listening to a presentation we were playing games with our small group. I met some new friends and had a great time. After the Food Services people gave their presentation a few questions were asked and because I got it right I won a tumbler cup and a coupon for four free meals in the dining hall. Woot! Since the rest of this is probably not going to make any kind of linear (time) sense I'll just tell you random stories that I remember.

In one of the games we played we had to step forward when certain statements applied to you. One was "Step forward if you are older than eighteen" The only ones in the group that stepped forward were our group leaders, both Sophomores, and myself. I am a little embarrassed to be starting college late so when I stepped forward I felt like explaining why - but telling everyone whenever the topic comes up about all that my family has been through and explaining to them that I am just blown away that this is even happening at all wouldn't be appropriate. Still, just owning up to that fact without any qualifiers was a good thing for me I think. One thing I struggle with is appearing weak in front of others. I don't always need to explain myself or make excuses. God has brought me a long way over the years and I should be satisfied just knowing that.

Here is Logan and Monica. Yay for Monica taking the picture!
The first person I met was Logan. He was sitting next to me and he started up a conversation by asking what major I was. I answered and then asked him what he was doing. That finished we both looked straight forward again and didn't say anything for a few moments. In my head some hurried thoughts were rushing through. "Don't lose this opportunity and make it awkward! Someone wants to talk with you... say something!" So, after that I kept on talking and he kept on talking and there was no awkwardness. Yay! I answered another question and won a bag of Reece's Pieces but struggled to get it open. Logan couldn't open it either so I asked the guy on the other side of me to open it. And that's how I met Daniel. I ended up sitting with them at lunch and two other guys, Micah and Bryce but I didn't really get to know them all that well. One time I accidentally called Micah Bryce and he just looked at me weird and nodded his head. Woops. I don't remember how I met Jamie but it must have been sometime between lunch and dinner that first day because when he sat with us at dinner time I already knew him. Logan had met a girl from group four named Monica so she ate dinner with us too. We all talked and laughed and had a good time. Monica shared one of her delicious sugar cookies with me. One of our group leaders named Dylan came over to chat with us for a bit. He's some kind of music major or something so I'm happy I'll be seeing him around a lot in building 82 because he seems like a nice guy and was a fun team leader.

This is Daniel
Some of the things we did during the day when it was just our small group were ice breaker games and diversity exercises. (That sounds pretty fancy right? "diversity exercises") They were all fun and even though I thought some of the questions were a little silly I didn't really mind them all that much. During the hand tapping game when we all had to lay on the floor I cut of Logan's circulation to his arm off because I was mashing down on it too hard.

Later after dinner all the students went back to their rooms to change into their gym clothes. I met my room mate for the night, her name was Kayla and was from group two. We both had trouble getting into our room because the key is funky but Kayla had even more trouble. The room is actually called a suite. It has a mini kitchen and dining area and then two open bathroom sinks on opposite sides. One bathroom is shared between the three private rooms which open into the kitchen. The door handle on Kayla's personal door fell off! We were both shocked. Kayla stood there with the door handle in her hand and then we heard the door handle on the other side fall onto the floor. There was nothing we could do about it because we had to hurry off and meet our groups down stairs again.

Kayla and I
With everyone wearing their gym clothes, all ten groups started off on a mass exodus to the gymnasium. On the way there I was walking with Daniel and he introduced me to his new friend Rey. It turns out that they are going to be room mates when school starts in the fall. They talked about punk rock bands the whole walk there which I don't really know anything about so I just listened. At the Health, Fitness, and Sports Center (the gym) we watched another presentation. After that I went on a tour of the facilities. Apart from the outside tennis courts, basketball courts, and soccer/football fields there is the pool which I've already been to and all the indoor stuff. There is a lounge area, a few computer desks, class rooms, and a juice bar; then in the next area there's a room for doing yoga, rock climbing walls, a place with those bikes you ride in one place, treadmills, a weight lifting area, racquetball rooms, and indoor basketball court. Above the basket ball court there is an indoor running track that's an 1/8th of a mile.

I hung out with Rey and Daniel for a while watching people rock climbing but then they both went off to actually try something. I went and found Kayla and we walked around the track with her friend a few times and talked about the zombie apocalypse. After that I found Jamie watching the rock climbing and chatted with him for a bit. Down below I spotted Logan gearing up getting ready to climb. Earlier he had told me he wasn't going to try it! I waved and shouted his name from above to catch his attention and then watched him climb about half way up. I said goodbye to Jamie and ran down the stairs to the rock climbing room and watched Logan finish his climb from below. He made it all the way to the top! I was next so he helped me get my harness on and then I climbed. I was really nervous and almost stopped half way but I remember the last time I had tried climbing I had stopped half way and I didn't want to do that again so I forced myself to keep going. My breathing was really fast and I could feel the adrenaline surging through my body. I made it almost all the way to the top but then just like at my Christmas recital when my leg shook uncontrollably on the pedal of the piano, my leg started shaking on the wall. I would have kept going but since this had happened before I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop it and I was afraid to slip so I signaled to the girl holding the rope below and came down.

After the gym we all went back to Presidents Hall where we were staying for the night and had what they called Argos After Dark. There was dancing in the lobby inside and outside a giant Jenga game was set up, various card games, frozen ice pops and candy, and a giant connect four game. I played Apples to Apples witch Logan, Monica, and a girl named Jasmine. I did a little dancing but was really bad at it and then played Apples to Apples again with a girl from my group, Yasha and her friend Jenny, Monica and Logan.

Finally we decided to go to bed. I rode the elevator with Monica and Logan and Monica said she wanted to find the laundry room. I got off on floor two and they went to floor three. When I turned to go to my room and saw the laundry room right in front of me so quick as a wink I hopped on the elevator again. I managed to spot them before they disappeared into their rooms only because they were having trouble getting their doors open just like I had before. They came with me to see the laundry room then Logan went back up to try his door again and I brought Monica to my room. I showed her how to get the door open and when we got in we found my overnight room mate, Kayla was having yet more trouble. The shower wouldn't work! We were dismayed at this news and while we were bewailing our fate our other roommate showed up. It turned out to be Jenny who I had played Apples to Apples with earlier. Kayla decided to take a shower in her friends room, Jenny went to Yasha's room and I went with Monica to her room.

The next day I woke up at 6:00 and went to meet my group downstairs at 6:45. We went to breakfast and as I carried my plate around looking for a place to sit Daniel called me over to sit with him and Rey and someone I hadn't met before. His name was Josh. Logan pulled up a chair and we talked about zombies, cross country running, and who knows what else. Josh didn't join in the conversation so after I returned my dishes I meant to strike up a conversation with him but then everyone was called back to meet with their groups and head to the next activity so I never really got to talk with him. The second morning had more group games and presentations, and we finally were able to sign up for classes! I have six classes and fourteen credit hours. I compared classes with people from my group but I wasn't able to find anyone that had the same ones as me. We had some more group time and I left my phone on the bench outside of the building where we signed up for classes. One of our group leaders, Yasmin, went with me to help look for my phone. After that we got our pictures taken for our student IDs which doubles as a credit card of some sort. We went to the library and took a survey on some computers and when that was finished we took a group picture. We had some free time so we stopped by the bookstore/gift shop. There were long boards in the window and very small skateboards but I don't know what those are called. There was a bin full of footballs so I got one out and managed to get Alexa from my group to catch and throw it with me.

Check out time came so we went back to Presidents Hall and prepared to go home. I gathered my things as quickly as possible and stumbled into the elevator to go downstairs because I was worried Logan, Daniel, and Jamie would leave before I could get a picture with them. I knew I would see Monica again because we had already agreed to meet up. Dylan (Our group leader) spotted me and gave me a hug goodbye with the sweetest smile on his face. I assured him I would see him a lot in the fall and left to write him and Yasmin a note in their little brown baggies for them to read later. I made it into the lobby in time to meet Logan and Daniel. Monica was there too and Kayla. I got pictures with all of them but I missed Jamie unfortunately. I always feel a little nervous about getting a picture with someone for the first time. How do you know when its time to go from friends who know each other to friends that take pictures together? I know its a silly thing to be concerned about but honestly, that's the thing I am always most nervous about when meeting new people. We sent Monica off with hugs goodbye first and then it was my turn to go.

I'm glad I was able to make new friends! I connected with them through Instagram or their phone numbers so I will be able to keep up with them in the future. Logan says he is going to show his car in the car show in downtown Milton at the end of the month so I'll be able to see him again pretty soon. This past year I have been working on stepping out of my comfort zone and trying not to be so shy. I used to be really shy when I was younger and I've been trying to break that habit. I am very happy to say that it hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be! I am really happy to be starting college and meeting a whole new set of people that don't know me as being shy. Hopefully I didn't over compensate...

Before coming to orientation was I pretty anxious about starting college... but all those getting to know you and sharing games did their job and I feel better now that I know everyone else is just as nervous as me. Actually having my class schedule in hand too is a huge relief because it finally feels like this whole college thing is actually feasible. I am very eager to start out on this new normal adventure.

I know this was super long so I applaud you if you've made it all the way from beginning to end. You'll just have to bear with me sometimes when I write posts like this because this blog also works somewhat like a personal journal as well. I left out a ton of random details just because I didn't want it to be so tedious to y'all. Those stories will have to go down in my real journal I guess.

Until next time y'all, God bless!
Elise

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