Orientation Week

Wow. What an insane week.

There’s so much to talk about, I think I’ll have to add chapters to this post. Seriously.

Aug. 25 – Move-in & Orientation day 1

I woke up early, dressed up and packed everything I could into the suitcase, my backpack and plastic bags. After a quick breakfast, we drove to Pomona, where I signed in and did all the paperwork I needed before moving in. I dropped by the re-coop sale, in which new students have the opportunity to buy stuff left by the ones who left the previous year. I opened the room and left my backpack there, and then we went back to get everything else.

The room is nice. I’m in a single, so no worries about sharing stuff with a roommate. I set up a couple of power strips under the desk to power up all the gadgets and organized everything else that needed so. With clothes hung and bed ready with sheets, it was already time for lunch, which was outdoor.

The campus here at Pomona is beautiful. There’s lots to do and to see, but so far I haven’t had enough free time to just wonder around (plus, it’s too hot; let’s wait for autumn, shall we). Anyway, after lunch we had a talk from the college president and then met with our sponsor groups for some getting-to-know-each-other activities. Some students then proceeded to say goodbye to their parents, but that wasn’t my case, for obvious reasons.

Sponsor groups are somewhat unique to Pomona College. In an attempt to help build communities amongst new students, two or three older students — usually second-years or “sophomores” — are appointed as hallway sponsors, which organize meetings for the residents of the hall to get together and meet each other.

Until the end of the day, we still had the traditional walk through Pomona’s gates, and the first ever freshman class picture. Finally, there was a “Welcome to Pomona” talk from the dean and an ice cream social at the dorm’s courtyard

Aug. 26 — Orientation day 2

Soon after breakfast (which was good, by the way; the dining halls here are great), there was already a speech on community building. That went until nearly noon and soon afterwards I had a meeting for transfer and exchange students.

Soon after lunch, we had our first class meeting, in which many of the campus’ resources were explained to us — this intrigues me, since I had much of the same information at the international student orientation a few days before.

Right after that, theater students performed Drawing the Shades, an yearly performance about sexual harassment, followed by a discussion of the same topic. Matters like sexual harassment, alcohol abuse, homophobia and racism are taken very seriously here and widely discussed. It’s an interesting thing to notice.

We afterwards had another dinner with our sponsors and then went to a meeting about our OAs — Orientation Adventures, which would start the following day. I met my OA leaders and played another few meeting-people games. I ended up getting my arm slashed by a tree, resulting in a shallow but long cut. It was a bit annoying, since I ended up getting my shirt dirty with blood, but I survived well enough.

By then, it was about 9 PM and I was really tired — the following day would be a long one.

Aug. 27 — Orientation Adventure day 1

I woke up at around 4 AM that day. I took a quick shower, got everything I needed to, and headed to the Outdoor Education Center with two other hallmates, who were in the same OA.

There, we had some quick breakfast, packed some sandwiches for lunch and helped put stuff in the bus. It was a long bus ride of about 6 hours. It was early afternoon when we arrived, and soon after most people were dipping themselves in the lake, which is definitely a sight to see.

June LakeDespite all that water (originated from snow that melted during the spring), we were in the middle of the desert. That means the weather was really dry, not to mention hot during the day and cold during the night. Also, we had to hide all of our food from bears. I’m serious.

Meals were always an interesting part of the day, since we’d gather around a few portable stoves and everyone would try (and possibly fail) to help with making the food.

Thanks to some great misunderstanding (or miscount), I almost ended up tentless and had to spend some time finding another tent to sleep in.

Aug. 28 Orientation Adventure day 2

During the morning, we went to a nearby lake called Grant Lake for kayaking. While at first I was somewhat apprehensive, since it had been a long time since I had kayaked, it turned out to be really fun and my favorite part of the OA. I shared a kayak with a girl and we had fun trying to keep sync while rowing. After we got to the other side of the lake, though, we had a problem: the wind didn’t want us to go back. We had to cross the lake once more, but this time against the wind. It required lots of strength and focus and, by the time we got back to shore, we were all tired, wet and laughing.

As we spent more time together and talked more, the people on the OA were becoming good friends. It was definitely an interesting experience, as there’s nothing better to make people close than to make them go through so much stuff together.

During the afternoon, we went for a hike. Or would’ve, if the path to the hike weren’t so long. Some people went all the way, some people ended up giving up. Walking uphill against the wind isn’t easy.

In the evening, we watched a short presentation about what we would do the following day…

Aug. 29 Orientation Adventure day 3

This day, we did community service. Basically, we tried covering up unwanted roads so plants could start growing in those areas again.





We worked for a few hours, until 1 PM. Thankfully, it wasn’t too hot and there was a nice breeze to cool things down a bit. The sun was scorching nonetheless however, so lots of sunscreen and shade were wanted.

After all that, we went to another nearby lake, Mono Lake, which is the largest one in the region. It’s a salt lake and direct access to it is rather complicated, so we only saw it from viewpoints and didn’t bathe in it.

A panorama of Mono Lake

A panorama of Mono Lake

Although the trip was fun overall, it was also really tiresome and most of us were glad this was our last day there.

The view of the stars was amazing, and all three nights we sat there glancing at the sky talking about the cosmos. That last night, I slept outside a tent, allowing me to look at the stars whenever I wanted to. It got cold, but it was bearable: the most annoying part is how flat everything below you feels.

Aug. 30 — Orientation Adventure finale

I got up rather early that day, and watched as dawn made its way to the sky. Finally, I thought, it was time to return to civilization. After breakfast, we took down tents, gather our belongings and took a few last pictures.

During the bus ride, we all watched Catch Me If You Can, which is really a good movie, and I finished reading The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (more on that in a bit). I didn’t sleep as much as I thought I would, although I was really tired.

For lunch, at about 3 PM, we stopped at In ‘N’ Out, a famous fastfood place here in California. I thought it was pretty overrated, although it is much better than McDonald’s and whatnot.

Back on campus, we had to help put everything back, including tents and sleeping bags, and clean up the stuff we used. I really wanted to go to my room by then, but I helped out with whatever I could.

Finally, I took a really long showed I hadn’t taken one during the OA and had some well-deserved dinner. There was a party at the campus that night, at Scripps, but I wasn’t in the physicial or mental conditions to go.

Aug. 31 More Orientation

That Saturday was mostly regarding registration. Some other campus resources were explained, but it was mostly about what classes students want to register for and why they should take certain classes that they might not expect. Lots of it wasn’t really interesting to me, since I don’t have as many options regarding what classes to take.

The interesting part was that we were able to meet with our academic advisors, something I had been looking forward to since the previous week. My advisor has been really good and has so far been really helpful as far as she can be. Unfortunately, there were certain problems with my registration ideals that not even she was able to help… I’ll talk about that in a later post.

After dinner, there was one more class meeting (the last one, finally!) and then there was a session of skits by the sponsor groups. Although I was pretty tired by then, many of the skits were fun or entertaining enough to get me through it without getting bored. My group’s skit ended up rather bad… But we didn’t get the worst scores the judges had to offer.

This time it was Pitzer’s turn to host a party, which was the Pitzer Luau, which I also didn’t go to. Some of the more experienced students at the OA said it wouldn’t be too interesting and, according to friend’s reports the following day, it really wasn’t.

Sep. 1 The Campus Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Orientation

Yesterday was the final day of orientation. I didn’t do much during the morning, except maybe starve a bit. The dining halls were in brunch schedule, so they didn’t open until way past my usual breakfast time. I spent the rest of the morning thinking about class enrollments and various other things.

Shortly after noon, I went for a so-called “Target run”, which means I got on a bus and went to Montclair, a nearby city best known for its shopping mall and Target department store. The first thing I did there was go to the mall and pre-order The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD‘s limited edition.

After that, I dropped by The Monstore, which is a TCG/RPG store. It’s a great store and I bought a few accessories for my Magic deck, everything Boros-themed.

Finally, I went to and got lost in Target. It took me a while, but I eventually found almost everything I wanted and went back to Pomona satisfied.

It was interesting to notice that my chosen T-shirt that day, one starring “Doctor Whooves”, was especially popular. Quite a few people during my shopping run mentioned it. I found Pomona students on the bus both on the way there and on the way back.

During the evening, we watched a talk by Elyn Saks, author of the aforementioned The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. The book is her memoir of her life with schizophrenia, telling the tale of how she was able to overcome all the difficulties and become a respected professor at the University of Southern California. I wasn’t too fond of her speech, since she mostly said what we’d already read on the book, but I guess that’s inevitable after reading a book about her whole life.

After that we had a debate on the book and speech, which turned out pretty interesting.

Finally, there was another party, Pomona’s own Frosh Aid. I decided to go this time, to see what it was about and also to donate some school supplies. I ended up bored and sooner rather than later me and two other hallmates came back to the dorm.

Whoa, that’s a lot! Because of the OA, I couldn’t post more frequently, but I will try to do that from now on!


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