This is an excerpt from the Daily’s 2014 Orientation Issue. To read the rest of the issue, click here.
His name was Jory, but honestly I don’t remember ever calling him that. During my first Welcome Week at the University, he was “Jor-Master of Directions.” Decked out in all white, most of my hall and I made our way through the Markley Wind Tunnel. Jor-Master led the group with an iPhone in hand and Google Maps open on the screen as we made our way down Observatory Street.
I recognized Mosher Jordan Residence Hall where I had gotten breakfast with my roommate that morning. I tried to keep a mental map in my head as we walked. After MoJo came Stockwell Residence Hall and the cemetery across the street. An intersection with only one grey liquor store that “doesn’t I.D.” according to my brother, but I still doubt I’d ever risk it. Then there was South University Avenue with its bars and restaurants lighting up the night.
A couple more blocks and now I’m lost. My mental map is gone. I might as well be in the blank, light blue abyss that represents water on Jor-Master’s iPhone. The street lamps and Christmas light-covered trees that dotted South University gave way to complete darkness with only a few spooky porch lamps. All the streets and houses looked the same and yet nothing looked familiar. I tried to spot a blue emergency light that our tour guide and orientation leaders had tirelessly pointed out to us. Suddenly going out tonight didn’t seem like it was going to be loud raucous college fun; it seemed scary. I didn’t know where I was, didn’t know where we we’re going and honestly, even though I was surrounded by 15 new friends, they were all really just strangers who wouldn’t know or even care if I got home at the end of the night.
“Jor-Master!” I yelled toward the head of the group “Where the hell are we?”
“Geddes,” he said, as if I knew any of the streets in Ann Arbor besides the Universities and State Street.
“Where?” I responded looking over his shoulder at the map.
“Don’t worry, I know how to get back and I get better with directions the drunker I get,” he assured.
Throughout the rest of Welcome Week I learned this actually proved to be true. No matter where we were, no matter how drunk he got, he always knew which direction to get us back to Markley. And even though I trusted him, I knew if I ever lost him I would be screwed. So I knew the most important thing was knowing how to get home. If you’re a North Campus commuter, the last bus leaves C.C. Little at 3 a.m. and you should be on it.
I have always made guy friends easier than girl friends, but I soon learned that going out with five guys was a sure-fire way to never get into any fraternity party. This meant I ended up at a lot of random house parties, which could either be awesome or creepy. One night I ended up in a dank basement playing beer pong against a thirty-year-old couple. On the other end of the spectrum, experiencing the crazy fun chaos that is the Greenwood Street block party – before it got shut down at 11:30, so go early.
Trying to get alcohol at an open frat or house party during Welcome Week is a feat requiring superhuman patience and jostling skills. By the second night we knew pre-gaming was the way to go. But avoiding the Resident Advisors meant pre-gaming had to be quiet. No more than three people drinking in a room or it gets too loud. No music, no loud gossiping about events from the night before. Pre-gaming in dorms should not be a social affair; drink your drinks, figure out your destination and leave those tiny 11 by 16 foot rooms behind.
Finally, don’t drink too much. As much as you may love your new roommate or your new friends from your hall, they’re still strangers. There’s little to no security at Welcome Week parties; anyone is allowed in. This is what makes it fun, but it also makes Welcome Week unpredictable. You will be surrounded by strangers all week. Some will become your lifelong friends; some you won’t see after freshman year is over and a few you will never see after Welcome Week has ended. During those first few days you are the only one who cares about what happens to you. So be careful, be in charge and in control of yourself.
All good things must come to an end, and once the school year gets started it’s going to get intense – fast. So enjoy Welcome Week for what it is, because exams and cold weather will take over before you know it. Make friends, explore Ann Arbor, and get your first taste of college life … whether it tastes like foamy keg beer or not is entirely up to you.
And of course, make sure to wear all white to Sigs Whiteout to Blackout Party on Monday night. I’ll see you there!