Katrina transplants share unique first week

Somantha Sheperd

Often times the freshman experience is a happy and memorable one. The shock of moving away for the first time and living alone is soothed by having a large group of friends around all experiencing the same thing.For the displaced students of Tulane and Loyola University of New Orleans, freshman year has been like no one else’s. These students, after a summer of preparation and orientation, goodbyes to high friends and hellos to college roommates, packed what they could and left.Meanwhile, here at Villanova, freshmen have to start all over, and registering for classes and finding the best food at the PIT is only half the battle.”I feel like I am a step behind,” said Amy Bobrinskoy, a biology/pre-med major from Tulane. “I followed around some of those prospective student tours, just to listen to what they are saying.”Bobrinskoy, who was in the library copying a weeks worth of notes for a test on Friday, has struggled a little with the lay of the land parts of Villanova life, but others are finding whole different problems.”Its pretty much impossible to interact with other students on weekends because the shuttle stops running back to my dorm at 8p.m.,” said Kim Donelly, a New Jersey native who came over from New Orleans and now lives at Harcum College.Margaret Ferrante agreed, as she waited in Barltey for the shuttle to come back. “It is kinda tough being this far from campus. I’m getting used to hanging around,” the freshman from Towson, Md. said. “I’m just disappointed that I’m not where I thought I’d be.”University officials are doing their part to ease the transition. “Our goal was to make sure by the end of the day they [the new students] were fully integrated into the Villanova system,” George Walter, the Associate Dean of Enrollment Services. “Ever since the students have arrived, we’ve been trying our hardest to make connections and provide support mechanisms.” These support mechanisms range from upperclassmen advisors to faculty visitors during “House Calls,”to even picking up students from the airport. Some of the transferees even got to go to Phillies’ game and get a taste of Philly. Cheesesteaks, of course.Though, most experiences have been pleasant, a few students have been less than welcoming.”One guy yelled at my friend, ‘Hey Tulane girl, why don’t you go back to Tulane? Oh wait, it’s not there.'” said Ferrante. “Some people have been nice, but others I’ve gotten the cold shoulder from.”The majority of students and faculty members have opened their arms to the new students. “The outreach and willingness to help has come in every form, from professors and administration to the students themselves,” said Kelly Donio, director of New Student Orientation. Donio has been very proactive in helping the new students get comfortable as quick as possible. She is currently in the process of organizing a dinner get-together at Harcum College so students can address concerns.Despite all of this, the transfers have kept both an optimistic and realistic perspective on the situation.Margaret Ferrante was forced out of her new dorm room with nothing more than a duffel bag to carry whatever essential items she needed. Despite her tragic story and those of the other 26 other transfers, they want everyone to keep the focus on where it matters”Its not as bad as everyone thinks,” said Ferrante.”We’re not the victims because we still have so many opportunities no one else has.”