All first year students are assigned a first year experience group. All groups have a first year experience mentor, a second or higher year student. All groups have to do a bunch of shit during the first week, like team building exercises and typical newbie stuff. All mentors have an advisor. I’m an advisor for one group that is composed of freshmen and international/exchange students who are only here for a semester or a year. I have to keep explaining that I’m not a student and that I am working at the college. It’s difficult. I like my advisee though. She’s very no-nonsense in a non-awkward way. She’s completely different from me, which I’m beginning to realize, most people are. I’m just so damn nonchalant. Cool as a fucking cucumber. It even annoys me sometimes.
Lots. Lots I want to write about but I should be sleeping. Lots I want to talk about. Someone asked, “how can you put your feelings on the internet?” They’re not really my feelings. They’re just words.
Spending all this time with freshmen has me thinking a lot about high school. High school is alright, you know, for what it’s worth. It’s safe. You get into a groove and you establish an identity. You’re still a kid and that sucks, but the rest of it is okay. In hindsight.
As a first year experience advisor, I had the option to travel with my first year experience group to the GB Botanical Gardens. Me, being me and missing Ireland and the great green dirt, decided to join. Also, I forgot how much sitting I do as a professional; thus, any chance to be up moving around is nice. I pulled maybe five weeds. I was a disappointment to myself, but I also found that I didn’t really care. The guys supervising us quit asking me if I was alright when they realized I was standing around doing nothing with purpose. Sorry, strangers.
At the college, after an awkward orientation video to the afternoon and a prayer (to which the European international students scoffed) we loaded into school buses and dropped another group off at an organic farm (I think run by the Oneida tribe but I’m not sure) before arriving at the gardens. I climbed on the bus after my group. There was one seat left next to a male freshman. “Sitting with you,” I said. “Okay,” he said. We promptly introduced ourselves. “Alaina” to which he responded, “last name? I like first and last names.” Alright guy, I can dig it. He kind of has two first names, and he likes people so he’s studying sociology and psychology. He played volleyball in high school and is a Lions fan, so we had a lot to talk about. He is stoked about being at Norbs and wished me a great first year. He might have fallen in love with me a little bit. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me later as he passed me getting off the bus when we returned to the College. It’s okay. It’s not me; it’s the Morales charm. This too shall pass.
I haven’t been on a school bus in years. It’s not anything like the bus experience in Guate-Rica. There’s something about the structure of a school bus that is soothing to me. This school bus was fancy. It had overhead luggage racks and high quality red pleather seats. Nothing like what I frequented as a pupil of the public school system. The mentors chatted up Al, the bus driver, and at one point I overhead them saying, “you do you, Al. You do you.” He was really impressed with us for volunteering. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we were forced to.
I think I enjoyed being with this group for 2 reasons: 1. They’re all new to the area, like me. They’re all strangers in a strange land. Like me. 2. I like watching people do new things. I know that’s weird.
I think it’s interesting how when you’re young you tend to look for people like you. You look for people who like the same things you do, who dress similarly, who have the same attitude. I mean, i think we do this throughout life, in a sense. But I also think the older I get the more I just look for people who have good qualities. Of course I notice what they’re wearing or how they brush their hair or if they have anything on their wrists. Their tattoos and the way they laugh. But I also notice that I’m more interested in the person. Their sense of humor; their interests; their goals. Unfortunately, those things aren’t on the surface, and require a conversation. I wandered around to several of the students and struck up conversations. Mostly about their home and their thoughts and what they think of weeding in the afternoon sun. The English dude said he was “getting rather thirsty” and, “I wish I had brought proper shoes.” Those damn classy English blokes and their fabulous manipulation of language.
I don’t know. New people put things into perspective. There are so many of us out here. It’s hard to imagine.