Monday, July 23, 2012

SOAR 2012

Late last night, I got home from my pre-orientation weekend, SOAR. I am going to try and eloquently put into words what an amazing five days I had... But I have to warn you, it's going to be a long post.

First of all, I took the megabus from Boston to Burlington. That was super convenient, as it leaves from South Station and goes to UVM, which is only about ten minutes away from the Saint Mike's. Also, it's CHEAP! It only cost $27, including booking fees, for my round trip ticket. The bus takes about three and a half hours to do the trip, but considering if I was driving it would take over four hours it's an awesome way to get from home to school and back again.

Purtill Hall, where I stayed
Anyways, once I got to campus, I got checked in and went to my room to set up and unpack a little. I arrived a day early due to the bus schedule, and was the first one there. Everyone involved in SOAR stayed in one of the buildings on North Campus. Even though it's not where I'm going to be living this year, it was great to check out what it's like to live in such close quarters with other people. Also, in the future when I am trying to decide where to live, I know that Purtill Hall is a great option. 

Thursday was when the rest of the group arrived on campus. We spent the afternoon playing ice breakers and getting to know each other. Including the leaders, there were about forty students involved in the pre-orientation. It was a great group of people, with an awesome dynamic. We all opened up to each other really quickly, in my opinion. Within a matter of twenty four hours, I felt like I'd known people for months. It was a really amazing feeling. Thursday night, we were surprised by a trip to the Drive In Movies for the premiere of the new Batman movie!

Friday was registration day. Registration itself was an ordeal that deserves it's own blog post, so I'll write about that later. After Registration day was over, we went on a hike. Now, I'll be honest: I am not a hiker. Generally I would never set myself up for anything like a hike. And for most of the way up, I wanted to quit, turn around, and go back to the parking lot. It was a really steep climb with a lot of rocks to get up. It was physically demanding, hot, and I was getting really tired. But the people around me were encouraging. Mo, the leader of the weekend, would not let me quit. He kept lying to me and telling me that we were almost to the top, and that he knew I could do it. As much as I wanted to give up, I kept going, and it was SO worth it. 

A view on our hike.

View from the top.

I made it to the top!
Then, after our hike we went back to Mo's house for some dinner. Let me tell you, all of the work I did on that hike was forgotten once we got to all of the AMAZING food! I tried a few new foods and I'm honestly not sure what some of it was but it was all so delicious. When we pulled up to his house, I wasn't sure that we were all going to fit inside, but we did. It was also a new experience for me to go to a teacher's house. In high school, I had some of my teachers all four years. I knew them really well, but seeing them outside of school was always awkward. Here, it felt totally natural to be sitting on the floor in his living room while his kids played on the stairs and we ate a lot of food. The community at this school felt almost tangible.

Saturday was probably my favorite day. We spent the day at Isle La Motte, an island about forty five minutes north of the school. It was a beautiful day, the sky was blue and the weather was warm but not too hot. We started off with two professors coming to talk to us about how important it is to have a good relationship with your professors. They told us about the community at Saint Mike's, and in Vermont in general. It was obvious how much they cared about all of the students at the school, and invited any of us to come talk to them about anything. Then, someone from Counseling and someone from Admissions talked to us about the importance of staying healthy on campus. We got to spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon enjoying the island. We got to go kayaking, enjoyed a nice lunch, and spent the afternoon throwing a boomerang around the lawn and sitting in the shade.

Playing with a boomerang on Isle La Motte.
 In the afternoon, we came back together inside. The student leaders of SOAR gave us presentations on a wide variety of topics having to do with student life: money management, time management, health resources on campus, relationships with friends and roommates, and more. It was all very open and candid, and they gave us real advice that they have learned in their time at school. I feel like I know a lot more about college life just from these presentations. I really feel like I have a leg up. After the presentations, we all piled back into the vans and drove back to campus. We had to get ready for a fancy dinner out!

Hibachi dinner.
 We got to go out to dinner at a Japanese steak house. I had never been to one before, but it was a Hibachi style dinner... meaning they made the food right in front of you! The cooks put on a really cool show, they throw food for you to catch and set things on fire. It is definitely both food and entertainment! Plus, it was DELICIOUS! We had so much food... soup, salad, sushi, shrimp dumplings, chicken and pork dumplings, cooked vegetables, fried rice, noodles, plus some meat! I chose steak and it was so good. It was a lot of fun to dress up and go out.

On a quick side note, I was really nervous about sharing a room. It's something I was not looking forward to at all. I thought I would be really bad at it, because I like having a space to be alone and have to myself. However, I ended up rooming with a really nice girl named Addy. We got along really well. We are even on the same floor of Joyce Hall, so I know that when I go to school next month, I will already have a friend on my floor!

Me and my roommate for the weekend, Addy. 

Of course, no trip to the area is complete without a visit to Church St. and some Ben & Jerry's. We all got ice cream (I tried Phish Food- so good!) then walked down to the waterfront. It was a really great night, I have some good memories that will last forever.

Couldn't come to Vermont without some Ben & Jerry's!
Sunday was the conclusion of our AMAZING weekend, and it was great too. It was a time for a lot of reflection on the time we had together. At the start of SOAR, Mo challenged us to do three things that made us uncomfortable. For me, it was climbing the mountain, trying new foods, and sharing a room. They all put me out of my comfort zone, but I was glad I did all of them. I had immense satisfaction after climbing the mountain. I tried a lot of food, and enjoyed almost all of it. And I made a great friend. I took some risks,  which I think is a trait that will be useful in college, but made some great returns from them. After an emotional conclusion where we worked on defining ourselves, we wrote letters that will be given back to us after first semester. Then it was time to pack up and head to the bus back to Boston.

SOAR was an amazing weekend. I feel so prepared to return in August for real... a lot of my anxieties were alleviated, and I made some great friends. I took risks and saw the reward and took the first steps to finding myself at Saint Mikes's. I can't wait to go back.

No comments:

Post a Comment