Freshman Orientation, the week I had been waiting for all summer, had finally come. We were driving to Ave Maria after flying from the northern tundra known as Michigan, to humid but beautiful southern Florida. I was both nervous and excited as we drew near to my new home.
My family and I arrived on campus for Honors Orientation, joining about 70 other honors program participants and the athletes that had arrived earlier in the month. I got all checked in and headed over to my dorm. After I unpacked and my Disney posters were hung, the real fun began.
That night, we heard a speech on “What College is For” followed by laser tag and games of Ninja. The next morning, we had a fantastic lecture lineup and then the final group of new students arrived that afternoon. Over the course of the next few days, we met roommates, new friends, and wonderful staff members. We listened to talks on how to grow academically, spiritually, and socially here at Ave. Some of the fun highlights of the week included Playfair, Swampfest, the Meals for Hope service project, and comedy night. At Playfair, essentially an amped up freshman mingle night, we met our classmates and learned how to carry conversations that progressed beyond “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but my name’s Emma, do we share classes maybe?” Swampfest was my favorite event of the week, however it did not involve going alligator fishing in the canal behind the dorms. There was an inflatable obstacle course, dancing, ice cream, a bonfire, and super intense games of spoons. Meals of Hope was a service project that all new students participated in. We packaged meals for the less fortunate in a local town. It was a great way to meet new people and also serve our community.
One of our last events was comedy night, another of my favorites. The show by John Felts was a great closing act for the week. On his website, he wrote, “The campus was beautiful, the students were awesome, and the time was great. There were so many things I loved about doing this gig. Their Chapel looks like a spaceship, there were bear sightings, and all the kids love Archery. It’s like a campus full of Hawk-eyes and Katnisseseses.”
After the scheduled activities were over, my family and my roommate’s family journeyed out to nearby Naples. We visited the pier, had dinner, and did some last minute dorm room shopping. We collected shells on the beach, saw people catching sharks, and walked around beautiful downtown Naples.
Soon it was time to say goodbye to our families, and begin the adjustment to college life. My family reluctantly left the palm tree paradise of Ave and flew back to Michigan, promising they would be back, joking (I think) about purchasing an apartment in the Piazza. Although I do miss them, we both know I’m in good hands. After this week, I can’t wait to see what the school year has in store!