Why I love orientation

Guest post by Bjorn Yearwood

Note: While orientation will be virtual this year, and your experience may be a little different from Bjorn’s, you’ll still have the opportunity to be introduced to your faculty, learn what the campus has to offer, meet other students, and learn about UVic life. While this year’s program won’t have orientation leaders, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to connect with and hear from current students during workshops, panels, your faculty sessions, and by participating in the New Student Connect Program. Hopefully, by this time next year, we’ll be back in-person, and you’ll have the opportunity to be an orientation leader too!

Orientation pre-COVID times

When I was an incoming student at UVic I was not sure what to expect.

I grew up in California and was new to the city and university life in general. One of the most memorable parts of my introduction to the campus was orientation.

To me, orientation was much more than a tour of the campus and an introduction to my major’s faculty. It was an event where I could learn about what the city and campus had to offer, meet people in my field of study, and get some background on what life at UVic is like.

I especially enjoyed the opportunity to hear tips and tricks from current students who of course have to promote the school but also answer questions in an honest way.

A pamphlet can tell you about a school’s resources but current students and orientation leaders can tell you the best study spots, their favourite classes, where to get student discounts, the best ways to find off campus housing, and more.

Something that has stuck with me since my first orientation was the territory acknowledgement. Growing up in the U.S. I had never heard one before or an explanation of why one was necessary but the way UVic acknowledged the traditional territory on which the university stands inspired me to be aware of my presence on territory that is not ours and educate myself on the relationship that Canada has with its Indigenous peoples. For those who haven’t heard it, here is the territory acknowledgement:

We acknowledge with respect the Lekwungen peoples on whose traditional territory the University of Victoria stands, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

After experiencing orientation for myself, I realized that I wanted to maintain my involvement with the campus by becoming an orientation leader. I wanted to pass down my knowledge and be one of the first friendly faces that new students to UVic see.

UVic’s orientation really made me feel welcome to the campus and I wanted to be able to share that experience with future students. The transition to a university setting can be difficult and scary but my goal as an orientation leader is to help students feel reassured, welcomed, and comfortable with asking questions.

I have made some pretty good friends while being an orientation leader and it feels good to be involved with the campus community.

It brings me so much joy when I see students that were once in my group smile or come say hi to me when they spot me on campus.

If I had not signed up to be an orientation leader, I would not have the same friends that I have today and I will forever be thankful for the connections that I was able to make during my time volunteering with UVic.

One of my best friends (left) and I (right) leading our first orientation group

You may also like...