The start of something good

Laura Welch

The crowds have thinned, boxes have been emptied and clothes have been unpacked, leaving it safe to say that the daily happenings at Villanova are getting back to normal. After three months away from campus, students have returned to their residence halls and classrooms and moved in to their school-year routine, where dinners at the Pit, late nights at Falvey and the battle to volunteer at Special Olympics are the norm. For a good portion of the student body, however, these events are hardly typical. For the nearly 1,600 freshmen, getting into the swing of things at Villanova can be daunting to say the least. Moving in Aug. 22 and 23, students poured into dorms on South and Main Campuses equipped at various levels – some needing a few extra trips to Target and others bringing everything but the kitchen sink. Orientation counselors and RAs helped make this transition easier by aiding with the check-in process.”The RAs were all really nice, along with the orientation team,” Charlene Walton says. “It was a relatively smooth transition, aside from the wait in the parking lot.”Walton is a freshman from Washington living in a triple in Caughlin Hall. Her mother came with her to Villanova to help with move-in.”I was really worried [about tripling], to be honest,” she says.The jump from living in a single bedroom to sharing a small room with two other girls was intimidating at first, especially when they were perfect strangers.”I talked to both of my roommates beforehand,” Walton says. “I found one on Facebook, and we talked about fridges and rugs, etc.”Tracking down roommates via Facebook, however, proved problematic when searching for her second roommate.”We had a harder time finding her because she goes by a nickname,” she says. “So we decided to call her. We talked briefly on the phone, and it was definitely awkward at first, but it was good to say ‘hi.’ ” “It was good to see them on move-in day with their families,” she adds. “Seeing them all together gives you a good impression of people. I know we don’t have to be best friends or anything, but I’m pretty happy right now, so that’s good.”Moving from being on top of the world in the last year of high school to being one among a whole group of strangers can be a tough transition, and the chaos of move-in day can make the jump all the more intimidating.”It was crazy,” Walton says. “Everyone was caravanning in with their big Suburbans and upper storage systems.”Though many of the freshmen were eager to jump out and claim their independence, family dynamics were still obvious as students and their parents drove into the parking lots on South and Main Campuses.”The freshmen boys were especially funny,” Walton notes. “A lot of them felt the urge to be the ones in the driver’s seat and they were all playing music, looking cool and taking charge … with their moms in the passenger seat.”She also points out that, though their kids were the ones moving in, parents were eager to make sure each room was up to par as far as amenities go.”They were insistent on making sure that their children had all the creature comforts of home,” she says. “My mom was pretty ridiculous. She made sure to unpack and organize everything on the same day. Everyone was pretty frustrated with their parents and exhausted by the end of the day; we were ready for them to leave as soon as possible.”The majority of the freshmen moved in on Aug. 22 in time for a luau that night on Main Campus. Often connected at the hip to their roommates, the new students navigated what can be an intimidating social situation: their first college “party.” Walton isn’t worried, though.”I know there are going to be more awkward social scenes … but that’s okay,” she says.Orientation began the next day, to the delight of some and the anxiety of others. Separated into small groups and run through a gauntlet of informational meetings and ice-breakers, freshmen can be overwhelmed by the process at times, but the general consensus is that diving head first into the Villanova experience is the best way to get comfortable.Overall, the transition from the summer after senior year to the first semester at school is a significant one, but the move-in and orientation process at Villanova seeks to make the jump a little more bearable. Its effectiveness, however, is best proven by student reactions. So, how does Walton feel about the past week?”I’m doing all right. I’m happy right now.”Orientation is one thing, but the start of classes for new students is perhaps the biggest test of their newfound independence. No longer led by a counselor, inexperienced freshmen have to make it to buildings all over campus in time for the start of class. One freshman up for the challenge is Kathy Bommer, an engineering student from Lansdale, Pa. Bommer had four classes on Monday, her first being at 8:30 a.m. and her last finishing at 5:20 p.m. She braced herself for the long day by meeting up for breakfast with members of her Orientation group. “I woke up at 7 a.m., but it was not that bad compared to when I used to have to wake up for high school,” Bommer said. Although her first class as a Villanova student went off without a hitch, her second class was a little more difficult … to locate, that is. Bommer is quick to admit she had no idea where Old Falvey was, but just decided to ask a librarian. After calculus, Bommer made sure to use her time wisely and did homework in Falvey Holy Grounds. About an hour passed, and next Bommer headed to Mendel for chemistry then later to the Pit for lunch. With a few hours to kill until her next class, Bommer decided it was an opportune time to head over to the University Shop. Unfortunately, so did half of the student body. “The wait in line to buy a book was ridiculous,” Bommer said. “I stood in line for 40 minutes, but I needed the book. I had no choice.” Following her seemingly perpetual wait in line at the bookstore, the stresses of the day were not quite over. Upon arriving at her engineering class, Bommer’s professor instructed the students to walk to South Campus, get their laptops and come back. Bommer proceeded to return to Caughlin only to realize she had locked her key in her room. “I finally got my RA to open my door … and remind me that there is a lock-out policy. Some kid in my class actually did the same thing though.”After a class picnic, homework, workout in Stanford and teaching the guys to do laundry, Bommer’s first exhausting day as a Villanova student was finally finished. Getting into the swing of things in college can seem intimidating to any new student, but Bommer has come up with the perfect formula for conquering the task: jumping into things head first.”I am too busy to be homesick … I have violin for music ministry tonight and homework.” Freshmen may be new to Villanova, but they are not new to life. Every freshmen was picked for a reason. If they were not intelligent, motivated and capable, they would not be here. Bommer realized this by her second day of school. “I was sitting outside eating lunch [on Tuesday] and looking around,” she said. “It was so pretty … and I realized this is do-able.”