I knew my day as a freshman would be a little rough. I asked a friend the night before, "What do freshman wear? Is there a special shirt or something?"
"Wear whatever you want," he replied. "They aren't a different species."
I immediately comprehended my stupidity in asking the question, but it showed me it has been awhile since I was brand new at the UW. Now in my fourth year, I decided to take a second chance at the life of a freshman -- for one day.
I walked into convocation with my head held high repeating the line "I'm a freshman. I AM a freshman" in my head. Though confident, I felt myself wishing I had what almost all the other freshmen had: my mom.
Toting parents along seemed to be the perfect accessory for the freshman outfit.
Though a friend offered to call his mom in order for her to accompany me, I decided I would have to face the experience alone. Eager to try out my, "Hi, I'm a freshman," pick-up line, I walked aimlessly looking for a target.
But being a freshman was harder than I imagined. I suddenly felt what it must be like to not know anyone. I tried to force myself not to talk to the upperclassmen I knew, which proved to be difficult.
In a room full of the unfamiliar, I found myself rushing to familiar faces and friends.
I listened to the Convocation speeches --- an event I did not attend when I was actually a freshman. I was amazed at the number of times I (as a freshman) was praised just for being at the UW. An endless slew of inspirational tidbits and stories highlighted each speech and though somewhat cheesy, they reminded me of where the UW can take you.
Forcing myself to meet new people, namely freshmen, I sought out greater success at the next event.
Next on the freshman agenda was an ice cream social, hosted by the Alumni Association. Here I was surprisingly happy to see the parents had headed for home. With no parents as their guard, I was free to try my luck at making friends with the freshmen who were newly alone.
I sat down with a group of very sweet girls who, though I felt horrible doing it, bought my "I'm a freshman" routine from the get go.
I asked if I could join them saying I didn't know anyone here. Eager to make friends, they agreed. I found myself skipping down memory lane as I retraced the exact conversation I would have had at this event just three years ago.
I apologized for asking so many questions, but I wanted to learn all about how these freshman felt. Two were from a small town in Eastern Washington like me, which gave us an instant commonality. I gushed about wanting to get out of the small town and hit the city, but also related to the scariness of it all.
One of my new freshman friends commented on the ease of the U-District. She said it was great how everything was right here. I agreed, remembering my freshman year when it was probably months before I ventured out of the comfortable surroundings of the Ave. and U-Village.
My cover was almost blown when a friend stopped by to say hi, but I anxiously whispered, "You don't know me, I'm a freshman." After I repeated this a few times, he walked away laughing.
After chatting with my new freshman friends for a while I decided to move on to see what other freshmen had to say about their experiences thus far. Many students seemed to travel in packs of people they went to high school with. In these groups they felt comfortable enough to meet other groups of people -- I didn't see many (like me) walking alone.
Two freshmen, Heidi Hohn and Amanda Joslin, knew each other because, though they went to different high schools, they grew up in the same town. Joslin said she wasn't as scared to start at the UW as she expected, because of reassurances from friends.
"[UW] is basically the last school to start ... all my friends have started and are all getting along fine," she said.
Following my Dawg Daze schedule, I headed to the freshman kick-off. "You've been waiting all summer and it's finally here -- you are now an official Husky," stated the event schedule.
Excited to become an "official" Husky, I anxiously trekked down to the stadium, wondering what, at this event, could make me an official Husky.
The stadium was filled with an intimidating mass of people holding signs with numbers ranging in the hundreds. Around each sign lay a group of freshmen, looking far less than ecstatic. I heard some murmur, "Why do we have to be here?" and "Why couldn't they let us have one last day of summer?"
Eager to fit in with my freshmen friends, I acted accordingly. Lazing around the stadium I finally selected a group to sit with and watch the freshmen react to the event. A few noteworthy people, such as Tyrone Willingham, spoke, but with the echo of the stadium no one could understand them, except when Willingham asked us to clap in unison.
This must be part of my transformation into an "official" Husky, I think. As I clapped in unison on Willingham's cue I realized I had completed my transformation into a freshman student at the UW, and without a doubt so had the real freshmen surrounding me.
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