I graduated from high school last Thursday, the sixth of June. It was an experience I’m sure I’ll never forget simply because it’s a unique one that everyone is sort of supposed to remember and reflect on as they get older.
Anyway, yesterday, the eight of June, I attended New Student Orientation at UNLV, where I’ll be attending class for the fall semester this year. It was a ten hour experience that I think will be more memorable than my actual graduation. I woke up at 6 AM, funnily enough, because I have been waking up no earlier than 7 AM for the past month of high school. A part of me was saying that I shouldn’t worry too much about what I wear or how I do my hair because it doesn’t matter what these people think of me. I’m supposed to be an adult making these adult decisions and what I’m wearing should not dictate what people think of me like some sort of high school interaction. Of course that didn’t stop me from curling my hair to make it look like my hair is so manageable and I’m so chill that it only took me fifteen minutes to curl when, in reality, it took me about an hour and a half. And I specifically chose my outfit to make it look like I was casual and relaxed when, again, it took all my effort into making sure that was the image I was putting out there.
My friend, Curley, came over at around 7:30 AM and we left my house at 8 AM, which is actually the time that we were supposed to be checking in at UNLV. We arrived maybe ten minutes later and entered the Student Union building. At first, Curley and I didn’t know where we were supposed to go, so we just walked straight through the crowd until we came to an open area. There were two signs that led off to different sections of the Student Union, one for student check-in and the other for our guests. It was at this time that our friends A and Y showed up and tried to scare us.
We freaked out over being with each other( even though we’d just seen each other two days earlier and we’ve lasted weekends longer away from each other), then Curley and I went to check in. At these tables, they handed us these badges that hung from a lanyard around our necks and had our names on it, as well as what we’re majoring in (mine is English and Curley’s is Nursing) and a group number that would eventually determine who we would be taking our campus tour with. Curley and A were together whereas Y and I were off to fend for ourselves with strangers.
Once we checked in, Curley and I went to get our pictures taken for our Rebelcard, aka the most universal card I have ever heard of. This card grants UNLV students access to pretty much everything on campus and some things off of campus. Need to check out a library book? Rebelcard. Want to pay for that Starbucks latte? Rebelcard. Need access into your dorm building? REBELCARD. My picture looks like crap but that was expected.
At this point, we were instructed to go upstairs for breakfast and the opening seminar. The ballroom was large and reminded me of the rooms in the Las Vegas Convention Center, except much more inviting. The Las Vegas Convention Center is creepily empty and eerie and I get shivers just thinking about it. But the ballrooms in the UNLV Student Union are pretty and warm (when the AC isn’t blasting) and have giant windows that let all the sun in. My friends all served themselves breakfast while I hung back because breakfast makes me sick to my stomach when I have things to do during the day. It literally renders me incapable of doing anything. But they got to eat and they said the food was good.
We sat down towards the back of the room, surrounded by a ton of people. I’m not even gonna estimate how many people there were; there were a lot. Towards the front of the ballroom were two giant screens, one on either side of a small stage where a man with the greatest handlebar mustache I have ever seen stood with a microphone, trying to pump up the crowd. It didn’t really work, the crowd was entirely unenthusiastic.
The seminar started promptly at 9 AM with an introduction of the fight song. They also made all the new students put on the complimentary t-shirts they gave us when we checked in. I felt so ugly. But we did it anyway and then they let us take a break while the guests went somewhere else in the building for their own orientation. During this break, we decided to take pictures in front of this custom UNLV backdrop at the back of the ballroom. While we were taking pictures, a photographer, like, a professional photographer, started taking pictures of us taking pictures. LIke, what the hell?
When the actual seminar started, we had to play this game called “Mingle, Mingle” which I did not like. Tell me to go introduce myself to someone and start a conversation, I will go ahead and do it. But tell me to play along in a game that makes everyone look uncomfortable and no one seems really interested? Oh hell no. Although I did meet some interesting people. Only one kid stood out to me, though, and that’s probably because I had a full blown conversation with him later when we found out we are both going to the Honors College at UNLV. But more on him later.
It was at this point that we were separated into our group numbers. I went to stand with my group and we talked for a bit before we were instructed to shut up and sit down. Not in those words, they were a lot more polite. Then it took about an hour and half of just talks of services at UNLV and all these other organization that are there to help us. It was a lot of information to process, then we had to sit for another half hour to listen to this guy talk to us about….oh crap, I forgot what he talked to us about. Whatever. After that, we were dismissed to go eat our lunches and go on our tours. They gave us Subway. 😀
We left the Student Union and went into the Frank and Estella Bean Hall building just on the other side of the Pida plaza. After we finished eating, my group joined up with the other Liberal Arts group and we toured the campus. We saw the library, the Desert Complex, the CBC Building, the “Wellness Center” or gym, and then we had to go to the liberal arts building, which I’m not too sure about on the name. I loved it, though. I had never seen the inside of UNLV, just the outer sides from the street, and it truly looks like an American university. It’s beautiful. However, it was also noon and 113 degrees Fahrenheit on a cloudless day. IT WAS HOT.
At 1 PM, we went to the Liberal Arts building and were told our specific graduation requirements and what to expect by being in this our major and pretty much all the nitty gritty college stuff that scares people. But our advisers did an amazing job of explaining everything and making us feel like we’ve got it all under control. I was separated from my group after the presentation because I’m in the Honors College.
While everyone else went to the building across from where we listened to our advisers, I, along with two other girls, were herded to the library. These boys told us to go up the third floor and head straight to the Honors College. So, we took the elevator to the third floor, crossed the bridge, and looked excitedly through the glass walls of the Honors College office. The Honors College is like a big section on that floor, but only the office is visible from the rest of the library. When we went in, we had to sign in and take a picture. We then had a little tour of the offices and hallways, were offered snacks and drinks, then we went into the back room where our …dean… was finishing up a presentation for the kids who’d gotten there earlier than my own group.
This back room, though. I fell in love. The room was not that large, and technically a “quiet study room” for the Honors kids. It roomed four tables that seat four people, a two person couch by the door, and some smaller couches with small tables towards the back. There are also white boards and a bookshelf that held old books without titles. But what got to me was the back wall. It was a giant window. The room is curved there and the window is floor-to-ceiling. When you stand in front of it, you get a view of pretty much the entire campus and beyond that to the city of Las Vegas. It felt like a corner office and it was gorgeous.
We got our own little presentation and it was interesting, but also a bit terrifying. Before, the Honors College was this group of people that look at my grades and tell me whether or not I am smart. Now it’s like, I have to sit down with these people, talk about my dreams and aspirations and plan out our journey together in order to achieve them. Like, yeah, that’s possibly the greatest thing I have ever heard, but now it’s real. This abstract idea is now this tangible accomplishment and it’s terrifying. But they were so nice.
Anyway, we checked out our schedules for any mistakes then they gave us a bag full of free stuff. Here’s where the boy comes back. When we first arrived and somewhat interrupted the group’s presentation before ours, a boy looked up at me in surprise. It was that boy I had met during the stupid “Mingle, Mingle” game. When I was in line to get my schedule confirmed, he was standing behind me and we got to talking. He’s an interesting character, that boy. I’m glad I got to know at least one person, but I think I’ll need to branch out. After I was confirmed, we were told to go back to the Student Union to pick up our Rebelcards and look at the Expo going in the ballroom.
And here was the moment when I realized that I am entering adulthood. I left the office alone because I didn’t really have anyone to go with me. I crossed the bridge in the library to get to the elevators, then I pressed the down button to get an elevator. As I waited, I realized that I was alone and that I had never been taught how to use an elevator. Yes, it’s a learned behavior, but it isn’t necessarily a taught behavior. When the doors opened and I stepped inside, I was utterly alone. The doors closed behind me and I pressed the “1” button. As I descended, I realized my age and where I was. It was enlightening in the sense that I found out I can do things independently and successfully, but it was devastating in the sense that I no longer need help or to be taken care of. It’s like, now everything I do is my own responsibility.
But I got a lot of free stuff at the Expo.