An ode to Welcome Week- a freshman experience

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Throw some 900 bright-eyed freshman into a collection of dilapidated residence halls with only a handful of icebreakers, an obnoxious convocation catchphrase, a newfound sense of independence, and one of the greatest cities in the world only 15 minutes away – skyline looming over campus – and you’ve got the ingredients for the Illinois Tech Freshman Experience. Or at least that’s how it worked out for my community on MSV South Second Floor.

Despite how awkward move-in day might have started, the social mess that was welcome week eventually settled down as the individual niches, floors, and slices of campus started coming together. “It might’ve meant asking the name and major of everybody around me seven times,” a source from my floor recalled, “but I’m not really sure I’ve ever made this many friends – this close – in such a short amount of time.”

Though that might’ve been the most dreaded part of welcome week – making the same introduction 100 times a day and becoming what another source graciously called a “small talk god” – it seems to have worked out surprisingly well for my immediate community, along with others on campus. Students are already fondly recalling trips to Chinatown with new friends with such nostalgia that one would guess it happened years ago. Comedies about bullying RAs and playing FIFA with them until uncomfortably late hours, or tragedies about waking up at equally-as-absurd times for sports practice have already built a sense of comradery around bonds that couldn’t be older than a dozen or so days.

Interestingly, while freshman relished in this freedom and sense of anxiety over classes-to-come, our ill-advised trips into the city and welcome week card games still fresh in our minds, upperclassmen look back on their welcome weeks with less warm affection. Even if true, negatives like “the MSV fire alarms,” “I straight-up didn’t sleep,” “it was a boring-ass welcome week,” and even cautions like “the food only gets worse” were the first – and often only – things to surface.

However, this pessimism didn’t prove persistent in the seemingly perpetually perturbed upperclassmen. “At least we didn’t have to deal with people screaming Tech Yeah,” a current sophomore jeered, looking on the bright side of life.

When talking to a group of current fraternity brothers, their faces lit like lightbulbs up when asked about how much they enjoyed their own rushing experiences. Instantly, they all settled on an event hosted by the Skulls a little while back. Admittedly, as an amateur journalist after a 6 a.m. practice and not enough caffeine, I wasn’t able to record every detail of their story, but I can say that it involved 1) a brutal obstacle course 2) a guarded hallway 3) a nerf gun with one bullet 4) a treasure chest of unimaginable riches with unbreakable chains and 5) grown men guarding it in uncomfortably short shorts. Of course, no year’s rush experience is identical, but with bubble soccer and free food abound, it’s good to know that tech school levels of excitement around a Greek community are still a part of some people’s freshman experience.

Despite their constant caution, the upperclassmen I spoke to seemed eager to give advice and, to a degree, reach out to the incoming class. Learning to manage your time, remembering to eat and stay healthy, making sure to get off campus and into the city when possible, and – one I didn’t expect – using Google Calendar, all seemed recurring pieces of advice that we would be better off to remember.

Our first few weeks as freshman in the class of 2021 have definitely been interesting. Possibly, its meant mind-blowing experiences downtown, or maybe it’s meant being comfortable and content while wasting three hours on a Saturday playing cards with your floor.

Maybe it’s meant seeing more sunrises on the way to practice than you would ever care to, or maybe it’s meant sleeping through events in your room until noon. Maybe you even found yourself wishing for classes to start more than any sane, social 18-year-old would ever care to admit. But whatever this time as been to you and your friends, to me it’s been a lesson on community – the ones I’ve joined and seen forming around me. With a strong, supportive group, you can honestly find yourself at home faster than you’d ever think. And if these few weeks have been in any way telling of the experience we have in front of us, then I’m beyond hyped for what 2021 can do in the next four or more years.