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Orientation ’10: Turning to face the strange

Now, I won’t lie and say that Mills is every thing I had been looking forward to my entire academic career. I hadn’t even considered applying until halfway into my gap year. I was scared from the moment I applied to the moment my family left me alone on campus after move-in day. I kept asking myself, “Did I make the right decision? Is this really where I want to be?” The entire thing was new to me. I was home-schooled for ten years, so I’ve been out of the traditional school setting for quite a while. I had never spent more than a weekend away from my family, so living on my own was something I had to adjust to. I never expected to end up in such a huge city like Oakland. I had my heart set on a college town. Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, just to name a few examples. Never a place like this.

Every little detail frightened me.

But the events during orientation helped to put my mind at ease. I got to know my floor-mates better during an LLC adventure, helping me to create a community of diverse and intelligent women. It also made me realize that I’m not the only one homesick and longing for the familiarity of high school and, well, home.

Some of the social functions seemed cheesy as hell. Was it an awkward gathering? As much as it could be. On the other hand, could it get any more awkward than being in a large room with three hundred women you hardly know, but will likely see often for the next four years? No, possibly not. And though the inspirational advice from the alumni was cornier than thou, it did make me want to think outside of the box. It made me think about how much I really could help contribute to society. Listening to all these wise women speak opened my eyes to new opportunities Mills had to offer me.

While I’m still not comfortable with this whole situation — just not yet, at least — I know it’s going to be a place I’d be proud to call home. And as much as it wasn’t what I wanted originally, being on this campus makes me see how it’s so much better than I expected it to be.

All of this sounds awfully cliché, but, hey. Sometimes clichés are the only way to tell the story, and that’s how I’m telling mine. I could go and spill all the juicy details about every thing that went on, but that’s for another time and place. A book deal perhaps. I’m dreaming big, but that’s what Mills women should do: dream big.