Participants and organizers comment on the diversity of orientation events
In a social climate where extroverted personalities thrive, how do introverts deal with the overwhelming social demands of Orientation Week? For many first-year students, Orientation Week can be stressful, especially for those with introverted personalities. A week that is supposed to help new students make friends, have a good time and settle into school can actually do quite the opposite.
“I kept wanting to call my mom and go home,” said Hayley MacGregor, a first-year music student, of her Orientation experience. “It’s harder because I’m not going to school with any of the people I’m comfortable with, any of the friends that I had in high school,” which MacGregor said made it initially difficult to enjoy Mt. A and “just take everything in.”
Psychology Today defines introverts as people who are “drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits.” Introverted people, unlike extroverts, can find constant socialization tiring and often need time alone to “recharge” before going to more events.
“There’s a limit to how long I can spend around people and noise and excitement before I need to go away and recharge for a while,” said Laura Hayes, a third-year math student and self-proclaimed introvert. “By and large, I’d say that the only time I felt it was to my detriment was during Orientation.”
Despite MASU’s best efforts, this year’s Orientation Week was still difficult for shyer students. “You walk into the gym and there’s hundreds of people and it’s very, very overwhelming,” said MacGregor. “As someone who gets overwhelmed very easily it was easy for me to say, ‘Okay I’m not going to do any more O-Week stuff’ and just hide in my room, which is what I did.”
Attending a constant whirlwind of social encounters can make it harder for quieter students to put themselves out there when they feel nervous.
When asked how being introverted affected his transition into university, Andrew Burt, a first-year history student, said, “It’s hard to make friends.” While he did enjoy the events he attended, he said he still feels like other students made friends more easily than he did.
MASU worked hard to make Orientation less overwhelming, but some unexpected changes in scheduling meant that residences had to cut some events that they had planned.
Niki Mina, this year’s Orientation chair, said that this confusion was due to a change made to the schedule after it had been printed. On the topic of what she would do differently, Mina said she would “make sure that I would be a little more organized and have everything set way ahead of time.”
Brandon McInnis, the house president of Thornton, said, “I wish MASU worked a bit more closely with all the exec and let them know what time they were going to take up with this and that. That would have really helped a lot with event planning.”
MacGregor said that she enjoyed the house events, explaining, “I think it was different because it was a smaller group and a different atmosphere, which was really nice.”
Mina, when asked about whether or not there was any collaboration with housing executives, said, “No, not from me personally.”
Despite this, MASU has overcome many issues that Orientation suffered from in previous years. When asked if there were any low-key events during her Orientation three years ago, Hayes said, “If there were, they were very poorly publicized.”
This year MASU made sure to have quieter events running concurrently to the high-key ones. Mina said that while the high-energy Mountie Mania and Mount Alympics events were being held, “There was Board Game Night so people who didn’t want to be involved in all the screaming and all the athletic-type events could just have a nice night where they find people to socialize with while playing board games.” There was also a paint night running concurrently to the disco glow party.
While Orientation Week was stressful, both MacGregor and Burt agreed that things have gotten better. “I’ve made a lot of new friends and I’m much more comfortable with my surroundings,” said MacGregor.
Now that the regular semester has started students can find their stride and really settle in.
“It sounds very cliché, but I just want people to feel like this is their new home and that this is where they can feel comfortable and that they actually did find their place here,” said Mina on her hopes for the outcome of this year’s Orientation.