orientation: (noun) the act or process of orienting
orienting: (verb – used with object) adjusting to surroundings, circumstances, facts, etc.
To be fair, that definition for orientation is pretty close to my own, but’s not detailed enough.
Before going to university, orientation meant finding your way around without getting lost and losing your mind in an unfamiliar setting. I used to be terrible at finding my way around. As a short, almost-twelve-year-old, new to the public school atmosphere in addition to never having been inside my new middle school, I got lost my first day. At that age and height (just over five foot) I thought our middle school was huge, but it really wasn’t. I ended up in the eighth grade hallway with a panic attack and a permanently embarrassed feeling when I was supposed to be finding the family and consumer science room in the extra-curricular hallway. Ever since then, I’ve made an effort to know where I am and where I’m going.
But this is no longer my definition for orientation.
orientation (noun) an event held by colleges and universities to introduce students to university life that includes long lectures on programs, slightly monotone speeches by people in powerful academic positions, course registration, and socially awkward icebreaker activities. I only say awkward because, if you’re not an outgoing person, then orientation might be extremely stressful and uncomfortable for you (most of the time).
Did I mention that it last most of the day as well? It does.
Just last week, I had orientation for the new university that I will be attending in the fall. As a transfer, I didn’t have many awkward encounters (they may be saving them for later). I guess since this wasn’t our first orientation, we all knew what to expect. But for all the headaches and anxiety attacks and potential spontaneous lecture naps- which will also inevitably occur during the afternoon lecture halls- orientation is still extremely important and relieving. It’s your unofficial start to a new chapter in your life. It’s the proverbial threshold you cross to the rest of your life- for which you are not prepared for at all.