September 2018 began with a fresh new batch of 1As arriving on campus. To welcome them, there was the annual orientation week. The theme this year was Terrain Takeover.
Some of you may have seen the swarms of first years wandering around campus on the Wednesday. Many, like me, were bouncing off the walls with excitement for all the fun activities we had ahead of us. But no matter how excited we were, I think it’s safe to say we were all a little nervous about the new chapter in our lives.
I, like many others, was a little worried. Away from home for the first time and studying one of the hardest programs, I kept asking myself: am I ready? Am I going to make friends? Are geese going to attack me on my first day?
As I walked into my team’s HQ, all my worries were washed away. I was greeted by a fabulous entranceway made to look like a campfire, and the lecture hall was decorated like the highland mountains to go along with the Terrain Takeover theme. One of the leaders came up to me and asked, “dark brown?”. I nodded, took a seat, and let out a sigh of relief.
Everyone was so nice. The Bigs and Huges were welcoming and enthusiastic and answered all my frantic questions about university life. I finally thought: everything is going to be fine.
We walked around campus, met the awesome SuperHuges and learned about a few engineering traditions (the rest were crammed into an entire book, which we received in our orientation bags). Then we were sitting in the lecture hall, just having a good time, when…
Dozens of people marched into the aisles. They dressed in all black, chains wrapped around their bodies. They scowled. They were slamming sticks and parking signs on the ground. The room thundered. We didn’t know how to react. That was our first introduction to EdCOM. It was fun and exciting (and a tad bit intimidating), but it also set the tone. The next few days were going to be interesting.
Next, it was time to earn our hard hat.
An afternoon of teamwork challenges awaited us. We built a never ending ramp out of junk, walked through the mud pit (a special shout out to all the Bigs who laid in it), and dragged tires in a game of the steal the bacon.
It was hot. I was sweaty. I was tired. However, the pride I felt when I put on my hard hat was undeniable. It felt great to be a part of the engineering team.
There were other events too: junkyard wars, where I learned you can make a catapult out of anything (even a mop); Scunt, a wild scavenger hunt adventure frantically running around campus and embarrassing myself; smash band, which included wonderful renditions of Africa and Mr. Brightside, both of which were stuck in my head for several days after.
All in all, the engineering orientation was an amazing experience. The engineering faculty was an incredibly welcoming community.
So, thank you to the SuperHuges, the Huges, the Bigs, and EdCOM. Now we know that the next five years at UWaterloo are going to be amazing. The frosh are super excited to be here.