I had no idea what to expect from college orientation. All I knew was that I felt absolutely stoked for it to start. I craved those few days where I’d get to sleep a few nights at Boston College and hangout with my future classmates.
The sacred day finally arrived. I would finally get a taste of college life, I walked into an enormous welcome from students, parents, professors, administration, siblings, pets. Long story short: I felt overwhelmed and claustrophobic.
Due to the millions of unfamiliar faces surrounding me, looking all different directions, smiling just past me, waving at… oh is that to me? *I wave back*… nope, not to me. Alright, so I showed up completely alone and knew nobody. I took in a deep breath and decided that the “college Carolina” would not fall into self-pitying.
For the next few hours, I found myself in a series of assemblies by upperclassman, faculty, administration, you name it. It felt like the world assembled to lecture us. Unfortunately, as someone who enjoys the possibly unhealthy dose of perfection, I interpreted most of the suggestions as the ultimate and only guide to guaranteeing a good freshman year experience.
Most of the suggestions played on repeat from speaker to speaker throughout orientation. And they seemed slightly obvious to the excited know-it-all incoming student (AKA me). But one piece of advice really took to me as unique and special. One staff member who spoke at orientation stressed the importance of finding a faculty confidant or friend to help with the college transition. I loved the idea of an experienced person guiding me through the chaos that is freshman year. I also clearly remember hearing how much faculty members wanted us to reach out to them.
As a fairly courageous person, I decided to turn this suggestion into a challenge. I engraved in my mind that I would go out of my way to befriend some random faculty of my choosing.
September and move in finally rolled around. The once excited Carolina who attended orientation turned into the completely ecstatic Carolina ready to move into her dorm. Throughout move-in I kept my challenge in mind.
With the start of classes came my growing familiarity with the BC campus and my newfound curiosity towards the Jesuit faculty. I found myself fascinated by this whole part of the Boston College community that most students don’t get immediate exposure to at secular colleges. Coming from a very religious family but not practicing a specific religion, I found myself fascinated by my own pull to this community.
But as classes and my hectic schedule caught up to me, drowning out all my hopes of maintaining a social life, I soon forgot my plan. Then a professor of mine gave an assignment where we needed to interview someone from the faculty, staff or Jesuit community on a certain topic. Right then I saw my chance. My hand shot up when they asked for people to volunteer to interview somebody from the Jesuit community.
My palpable enthusiasm surprisingly morphed into embarrassment. I was the only student who volunteered to interview a Jesuit. “Oh well,” I thought, turning my attention to my game plan. The class assignment required I asked certain questions, but I also knew I needed to figure out how I would somehow turn the conversation from the assignment so I figure out if this person would become my faculty friend.
I grew more and more nervous the days leading up to the interview. A very nervous Carolina obsessively checked her phone for emails confirming the meeting time. Soon, the forsaken day arrived and I made my way over to McElroy, the building holding some offices of the Jesuit community, promptly at 3 p.m. I arrived slightly early to stake out the area.
I went up to the secretary and tried not to come off awkward as my interview jitters started to cloud my brain function. “Hi… um… I’m looking for Matthew Daly’s office,” I said.
“Right down the hall to the left,” the secretary replied.
My timid feet made way down the hall. My wandering eyes saw vibrant conversations of people chit chatting away, smiles flying all around and candy perched on printers and shelves. Automatically I began more relaxed.
Faded blue classic Adidas, a casual t-shirt, jeans and a big smile greeted me inside the office. Matt Daly told me to sit down and I hastily explained the interview assignment. I asked my questions in an orderly fashion.
Once done, without meaning to, I did one of the most embarrassing things an English major who loves public speech could do: I word vomited. “So… at orientation they described how it was important to have a faculty friend…and… Well… I’ve been trying to find a faculty friend…and… well I was hoping you could be my faculty friend and maybe we could chat a little now…?”
I remember exactly what I told Matt to this day because a moment that awkward never fades away.
Besides my epic fail of a plan, I ended up making a close friend who I would go on to meet up with about once a week. This newfound safe haven became one of my most valued treasures at Boston College.
Thanks to my awkwardness and excitement mixed with courage that bubbled up inside me in that moment, I found a great friend inside my own little world in a big new place.