[Last year, I took the final two weeks before students arrived at Acadia to prepare this information. Hopefully, with only a few days left to go, you might be able to find some of it useful. I’ll be around taking pictures this week, so I hope to meet and see more of you over the coming days. I’ve edited some of these pieces to reflect this year’s info, but where this was not possible just ignore the specifics and focus on the flowery explanations – Myles]

#14 – Special Interest Groups

Three years ago, the Special Interest Group was introduced as part of Acadia’s Welcome Week, and I must admit I was excited. Mondays have always been a tough day, since the returning students are moving in and having all of the Frosh in residence would make that somewhat more difficult. So, the university has always had to search for a way to get students out of residence during that period of time.

In my frosh year, it was an epic frosh scavenger hunt that had us traipsing around Wolfville. This was fun, and showed us parts of Wolfville, but it was a bit too random and unorganized. Special Interest Groups, on the other hand, provides a bridge for first year students into one of the university’s most rewarding qualities: extra-curricular clubs and activities.

There is a whole slew of great clubs and socities on campus, and one of the biggest challenges they face is making new students aware of this fact. Special Interest Groups are a fantastic opportunity for students to experience some of the diverse opportunities available with their peers in breezy sessions that are a welcome break from the non-stop activity of the previous days.

This year, new students are able to sign up for these sessions online, which is a huge advantage: in past years, it was just a mad rush to sign up on a random sheet of paper, and there just wasn’t enough thought put into the process. All frosh should be looking at these groups and seeing if anything interests them. It’s a great chance to experience a different part of the university, meet some great people, and maybe find yourself a new interest for the years to come.

For more information on the Special Interest Groups, you can visit Acadia’s Welcome Week Website. There is sadly not information up for many of them, but hopefully that changes when more information comes in over the coming weeks. It might seem like something simple and small, but it’s a great opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up.

13. Matriculation

Matriculation isn’t exactly what one would call a word of common knowledge: in fact, I’m pretty sure the word itself has probably turned some first year students against it for years now. It’s your first day at Acadia and all of a sudden they’re asking you to herd down to the Gym, put on funny robes, and get piped into University Hall.

And, if it was raining, I don’t think I could blame the Matricuhaters: while I’ve experienced only sunny Matriculations personally, rain would certainly damper one’s spirit. However, Matriculation is a great opportunity to become part of the Acadia experience both in terms of ceremonial connection and, well, hanging out waiting for the event to start. You only need to bring yourself and an openness to interacting with others, and Matriculation can be a very memorable part of Welcome Week.

As Jessica and Ryan demonstrate in this particular photo, the lineup waiting for Matriculation is a great opportunity to talk with your fellow Arts, Science or Professional Studies students. You’re lumped into disciplines after you get your robe, and there was some great chatter in lineup this year about who’s in what, what classes they have, where they’re from, etc. I started a discussion with Kyra, my future neighbour/RA/Boss, and that friendship continues to this day. It’s a powerful time.

But that, admittedly, is a spin off of the real value. Being piped up the hill, your parents either outside taking pictures or inside sitting in the balcony (Or, if they’re not present, surely thinking of you to some degree), you become part of the Acadia experience. Once inside, all of the dignitaries file in and Arthur Irving (aka the Most Ass-Kicking Chancellor ever) wields his…stick thing, and it begins.

What begins? Your future. When you graduate from Acadia, you participate in Convocation, the sister ceremony to this one. They provide, as they’ll explain, bookends to your Acadia experience. Although the dignitaries might change with time (I can point out about 6 from last year’s lineup that won’t be there this year), the thing that won’t change is that sometime pomp and circumstance gain greater meaning with time.

So, as a short term chance to meet people and please your parents (Parents ❤ their children in robes), Matriculation is a fantastic opportunity to engage the Acadia experience. It might not be something that changes your life, but I think that it’s something that will someday have a great deal of meaning. And I wouldn’t want to see you miss out on that.

12. Interacting with your RAs

Currently, I am amongst the over 70 students who have been training for two weeks for your arrival. This will be my third year as an RA, and thus my third time experiencing Welcome Week from the perspective of “the fuzz.” New Student Orientation leaders get to have all the fun: they’re peers, and at no point in the near future will have to enact all sorts of rules that cut down on the usual equivalent to fun from a university student’s perspective.

But RAs are there to guide your experience during Welcome Week as much as NSO leaders, and I think that the relations between them is one of the most important parts of the experience. Getting to know your RA not only makes life somewhat easier, but it also gives you a chance to gain some new and important information.

There has always been an argument as to what RA stands for. Some say Residence Assistant, others say Resident Advisor. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you combine these terms, the basic principle remains: they are there to assist, advice, and help residents. As a result, it is up to new students especially to embrace this fact.

Welcome Week is a fantastic opportunity for you to get to know your RA, and ask them any questions you might have. Heck, technically the past few weeks have been a great chance to use Facebook to chat with your RA and get an idea of the year ahead. A good relationship with your RA won’t put you above the law, but it will allow for a better environment in which you can begin your university experience.

This year, since I’m an RA in Roy Jodrey Hall, I won’t be having Frosh in my building. In my view, this is a crushing disappointment, as I’ll miss that interaction on a regular basis. However, as part of West College, I will certainly be out and about interacting with Frosh…which is kind of what I’m doing now. Sort of. So, yeah. Do that.

#11 – Residence Time

Admittedly, I had planned to write this particular piece today on my schedule, but wasn’t really thinking how apt it would be. I am now firmly entrenched on campus, and am lucky to have a lot of residence time on my hands: posters don’t hang themselves, and my floor is still somewhat of a disaster area at the moment.

And new students will, without a doubt, find themselves in the same position in just a few weeks. Unless you’ve got extremely nice parents (Like my own, clearly [/sucking up]) who are willing to organize all of your stuff for you, you’ll be too caught up in Welcome Week craziness to be able to really sit down and consider your room. This particular problem is solved by Residence Time, one of the most important parts of the Welcome Week schedule.

Not only does it give you time to unpack or reorganize your room (Unless you’re in Chipman, where everything is nailed to the walls), but it also gives you time to meet your neighbours, your RA, and get an idea about how your environment will sort out for the rest of the year.

You’re also going to want a break: those first few days are extremely hectic, and the idea of being able to sit down and spend some time in your new surroundings feels especially nice after a while.

It might be a week before your room really gets settled: you might put some sheets on your bed, some clothes in your armoire, and maybe set up your desk…but, in the end, chances are you’re going to be out enjoying your university experience. And, when it comes time to head back to residence as mandated by the schedule, you’re going to heave a sigh of relief.

#10 – Academic Orientation

On Tuesday afternoon (Which I will get to later), you will be asked to attend a series of meetings that might seem boring in theory. Academic Orientation is a series of presentations from the various faculties (Prof. Studies, Arts, Sciences) that are designed to initiate you on what’s expected of you, and they are an integral part of your Welcome Week experience.

The reason for this is simple: classes are only a day away at that point, and you obviously have questions about the transition between high school and university. While settling into residence and meeting new people are important, at least part of your mind will be occupied with either worry or dread about what the following day’s classes will bring.

Academic Orientation takes the form of first three large presentations by the Dean of your respective faculty as well as some key basics. Then, afterwards, each group breaks off into your majors or focuses, which allows you a more personal retrospective.

If you’re in Arts, you might worry about writing papers, or mid-terms, or what’s expected of you as part of the Arts core (Last year, as shown in the title picture, Dr. Duke gave a great talk on interacting with professors at the Arts session). When you go into Academic Orientation, you will receive information on all of these things from the professors and department heads who are in charge of your future. You can talk about plagiarism, managing your time, or buying books. Profs are a great resource for such info.

In Science, you might be wondering about lab work, exams, testing, the new Biology building being completed, or any other subject. And your professors will, without fail, be able to answer those questions. In Professional Studies, you might have questions about the business programs or perhaps about changing your major: they will be more than happy to answer general questions, or set up meetings for you later.

And, did I mention that you get to have a nice BBQ lunch with your faculty right before? So a great chance to meet and mingle with students who will, more than likely, be in your classes.

While Welcome Week involves a lot of fun in the beginning, by Tuesday you’re starting to focus on your academic future. And, on Tuesday afternoon, Welcome Week is designed to prepare you to enter into that scary world of five classes a week with as much ease as physically possible. Here’s some links that might answer some of your questions ahead of time, or maybe give you some questions to ask!

Faculty of Arts

Faculty of Professional Studies

Faculty of Pure and Applied Science

#9 – Frosh Leaders

I talked a few days ago about RAs, and how they often face a tougher road thanks to being “the fuzz.” NSO or Frosh leaders, on the other hand, do not face such a stigma: instead, they are there are your fellow peers, designed to welcome students without also having to enforce rules or anything of the like. However, despite this, I would actually argue that they hold almost as much, if not more, responsibility during Welcome Week.

Welcome Week is an extremely hectic time, and frosh leaders are basically the only thing holding it together. They’re the ones who wake up the new students, who chauffeur them to events, and who give up a week of their summer to train and be part of your experience. Many of them also continue to play a role in residence life as members of house council in the year to follow.

Their largest role is probably helping new students move into residence, one that cannot be overstated. When you arrive at Acadia, often with a van load of stuff, you might have you and your parents to move it in. If this was all there was, it would take a full day to get everyone loaded in, especially if there are only small parking lots (Which, yeah, is the case with Eaton/Christofor, as an example).

But you might never have to lift a finger, thanks to frosh leaders. You park your car in the parking lot and, unless there’s only a small number of leaders, a veritable army will attack your car and start asking which room you’re headed to. Then, like an organized army, they start hauling clothes and TVs and fridges into the elevator, into your room, and you and your parents can start packing, get your Frosh shirt, and get set for the weekend to follow.

And really, like the RAs, Frosh Leaders are there to make that transition easier. But, more than that, Frosh leaders are great people who are there to motivate and encourage. When it comes time for cheering, or anything of that nature, they will be the ones building pride in your residence and its traditions.

While RAs are there to enforce rules and create a welcoming community, Welcome Week leaders are there to infuse history, and spirit, and all of those other fun things. And while there is certainly place for both, I’d say that the Frosh Leaders are perhaps the more memorable from a Welcome Week perspective. Interacting with them will, without a doubt, be a highlight of your first four days at Acadia.

8. Arrival and Survival

On Saturday Night, as you’re just settling in and getting used to your Acadia experience, you will invariably have a large number of questions swirling through your mind. But then, you’ll be paraded down to U-Hall, sat down in oddly uncomfortable chairs for the second time that day (Matriculation being the first), and in front of you will be answers.

Not to all of your questions, and certainly not clearing up every issue you may have, but Arrival and Survival is designed to help you deal with university life socially academically, and everything else through song, dance, drama and comedy. It is by far one of the highlights of Welcome Week, and one of the things you will certainly remember.

I won’t spoil the show too much, but it’s quite a production: upper year students (Like Rivers pictured above wearing a REALLY small Eaton/Christofor frosh shirt) work tirelessly to present a wide range of scenarios that are more common than you might realize, and in the process a lot of questions you might be too scared to ask will be answered.

It deals with sexually transmitted diseases, depression, issues with alcohol and drugs, and even the crippling computer addiction that affects us all in some way (If you’ve seen how often I’ve been posting in the New Students group, I clearly can’t speak too well on this particular affliction).

And yet it never feels preachy: this is not an after school special, and they will treat these subjects with the right balance of humour and gravitas that will have people laughing and, more importantly, thinking. So when the RAs and NSOs are lining everyone up to spend part of their Saturday night watching a play of all things, be warned: you will laugh, you will chuckle, and you might just end up thinking about things a little bit more.

After it’s over, there will be a debrief session that will allow you to extend this into a bit more of a discussion. To be honest with you, this didn’t go all that well last year: it was boring and never quite got to expand on the issues at hand. However, I hope that this year there will be a greater emphasis on sharing one’s personal experiences, and I have heard word that this might be the case.

While there are other events that may be more interactive or exciting, no event is able to combine enjoyment and meaning as well as Arrival and Survival. Which is why it should definitely be a highlight for many new students to Acadia this fall.

7. Mock Olympics [Monday]

Greetings LIVE from Wheelock Dining Hall. As Alex scarfs down his mini-wheats (He asked if I was live-blogging his lunch, so there’s some live-blogging), I am going to take this short break in RA Training to let all of you know about what is by far one of the most memorable aspects of Welcome Week: Mock Olympics.

The actual Olympics portion of the event is something that, understandably, is kind of lame. The games are too simple, the structure is non-existent, and they insist on banning cheating even when it’s the only way to make it fun. Mind you, we cheat anyways, so they’re still worth a laugh. However, the reality is that Mock Olympics ends with the most spirited moment in the entire week: a giant cheer off extravaganza.

Some people, like Sondra (Sitting to my left commenting as such), don’t go to Mock Olympics, tired due to the end of the Welcome Week period and hoping to avoid physical activity of a strenuous nature. However, what you would miss would be an exciting period of enthusiastic yelling, dancing, screaming, cheering, and just about everything else.

Each residence organizes a cheer that becomes a song and dance routine, or a giant yelling session, or a series of cheer-like objects designed to organize their supremacy (Okay, this is taking a while, the football team is introducing their rookies through some enjoyable singing incidents that are distracting me. They’ll be up on Facebook later.).

Having now relocated to the empty Fountain Commons, I can finally get around to showing you some pictures and highlights of the various residences. For more images of Mock Olympics (Mostly from the Eaton/Christofor perspective), you can check out this Facebook album. This is something you will want to experience, and something that will cap off the work done over the weekend in turning you into mindless cheering machines.

And you’ll want to be a part of it.

[Here, Cutten parades the banners they liberated from other residences into the gym]

[Seminary arrives, yelling of course.]

[Barrax is big on the giant circle of huffing and the like.]

6. Frosh Names

When the time comes for you to be assigned a frosh name, you might be dreading the experience. A frosh name can absolutely stick with you for four years, and sometimes they are…less than pleasant. However, not only are frosh names optional in the end, but they are also a whole lot of fun. Frosh names can provide a whole host of fun activities, and some great entertainment for those who get to watch others step outside of their comfort zone.

But Frosh names can be both physical and, in other ways, spiritual. Eaton and Christofor, for example, have a tradition of naming both an Eaton and Christofor Pride (Being presented to Colin above), who are in charge of running chants and representing the two residences’ pride in their buildings.

Cutten (Now Tower, of course), had one of the most memorable frosh names last year: the poor young man who was asked to wear a child’s unicorn costume, effectively becoming “Unicorn Boy.” However, he wasn’t ridiculed, but rather loved and known by all. It might have been Pony Boy, or Unicorn Boy, but the reality is that he was known. And he made for some great pictures.

Most residences also have a Pick Up Frosh, a guy or girl who travels around to various campus members and other students and asks for their phone numbers. Pictured is Seminary’s Pick Up Frosh from last year, who got completely rejected by this football player. It was a great, if tragic, moment.

And there is a whole host of other frosh names. If you want to be active in frosh week and have some fun, and you’re willing to try out new things, volunteer when an early frosh name is offered up. If you are a little bit more uncomfortable about it, don’t worry: most of the time you can sit back and enjoy things, or even request a name that will require less action or lack of comfort.

But years after frosh week, you might well remember your frosh name for all of time (If you keep your Frosh shirt, it will still be on there. And Alex is doubting this, claiming it as hyperbolic, but I stand by my blanket statement). I still remember my frosh experience: I was the Croc to the Croc Hunter. I went around opening and closing my jaws, and then the Croc Hunter would hunt me. And then tackle me.

And it was fun, it was memorable, and it was a fine introduction to the situation at hand. I won’t lie to you: some of them are better than others. But the Frosh Names tradition is something that you will always remember, and something that will bring much joy during your first week at Acadia. And maybe for months afterwards.

5. Losing Your Voice

Welcome Week leaves behind some lasting memories for many students. One of the more common, however, is something more damaging than memories…but much more rewarding in the short term. Because, inevitably, many people involved with Welcome Week will lose their voice.

Last year, a majority of Welcome Week leaders lost theirs, like Jennifer above who unsurprisingly was unable to keep her voice intact. Jeremie, Eaton Pride, lost his by the time the last day came around, although he was also getting sick at the time I believe. The Welcome Week experience is not designed to protect your vocal chords, there’s no question about it.

However, this is one of those times when losing your voice is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. When you lose your voice during Welcome Week, it means that you’re yelling at the top of your lungs, cheering as far as your words can take you, and that’s the sign of someone who is dedicated to their house, and to the Welcome Week experience.

So, prepare your vocal chords: I suggest some warm up exercises of loud, excessive cheering. Wake the neighbours. I’m sure it will be okay. While some might question this being so high up the list, I think it’s one of those things that you just need to experience to understand its significance.

Because when you lose your voice during Welcome Week, in retrospect it will be one of the best feelings in the world. At the time, eh, might be kind of uncomfortable. But just think of the memories, and you’ll be fine.

3. Eating at Meal Hall

Admittedly, Wheelock Dining Hall and I don’t get along all that well. It isn’t the quality of the food, or the staff, or anything like that: I am just extremely picky, and can eat only so many deliciously greasy grilled cheese each week. However, even I as someone unsuited to the meal hall lifestyle, know that eating there during Welcome Week is an incredibly rewarding experience.

Since you travel as a rather humongous mob with your respective house during Welcome Week, meal time is one of those awe-inspiring experiences. It’s not often you are part of a group of fifty or more people wearing identical T-Shirts, and it’s also not often that you have to navigate the crowded lines to grab your grub in such a group.

Meal Hall is so great during Frosh Week because it gives you a chance to sit and talk with your fellow frosh, as well as your RAs and Welcome Week leaders. There is a tremendous amount of times when everything seems choreographed and organized, but meal hall is just one big rush. You sit down next to whoever fights into the chair next to you, start eating, and with your mouth full you will eventually enter into a conversation.

And sometimes those conversations are life-changing: Andrew and Colin are in the small photo above, sitting next to one another…and now they’re bros! Welcome Week is a great way to meet friends, and Meal Hall is definitely a place where that happens.

Meal hall is even better now than when I was there during my Welcome Week. There’s nicer chairs, some nicer tables, and even some new meal options that should be exciting as we move forward. Meal hall will never be perfect, but during Welcome Week it is a space that is hectic, crowded, and probably pretty darn hot…and yet I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So enjoy the new renovations, ask your RAs for more information on the meal plans and everything else when you arrive, and look past the overwhelming buffet selection and realize the other benefits to heading to Wheelock during Frosh Week.

2. The Frosh Photo

I have a thing for photographs, as every single RA and NSO is aware of thanks to my incessant photo taking during our training sessions. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that I have a special place in my heart for this particular aspect of Welcome Week.

My love for the Frosh Photo derives not just from my love of photography, but moreso for my enjoyment of the purpose of that photography. The Frosh Photo is designed to be a keepsake, something that you can purchase once the local photography studio gets it all nice and prettied up. However, more than that, the event itself creates memories and can bring them back at any time.

Looking at my own Frosh Photo (Which I did recently), I can think back to the other frosh in Eaton/Christofor and their own crazy antics and cool frosh names. I start to remember who I was standing by, what was going on, and what we were chanting to various residences at the time.

General shots taken during frosh week (many by me) will provide snapshots of you and your new friends, maybe you and your old friends, but the Frosh Photo is definitive. It’s all of the frosh, all of the cheering, all of the coloured shirts, and all of the pride in your residences coming together.

On Sunday afternoon, I want every single one of you to be at the Frosh Photo. While it may seem very simple, it is actually both a huge undertaking and an especially rewarding one. Even if you don’t buy a copy of the picture for yourself, it will always be there to represent your first days at Acadia. When you graduate, that Frosh Photo will be in your Yearbook, reminding you how innocent, naive and wholesome (Or, less satirically, simply at an earlier stage in growth) you were before you arrived.

I guess I like to view the Frosh Photo as a last moment of innocence: people cheering, people waving flags, and people representing themselves. It will be hard to recapture that spirit and energy, so having it documented in the form of the Frosh Photo is without a doubt a fantastic thing.

I’ll be there capturing it all: I do hope you’ll be there as well.

1. The Moment Your Parents Leave

I had this written down as the most memorable moment, and I considered changing it…but I decided not to. While this moment can be terrifying for some, liberating for others, and uncomfortable for many, the moments your parents and you separate is the most memorable moment of your Welcome Week experience.

It could be when you leave the airport. It could be when they finish unpacking the car. It could be after matriculation. It could be days later. It could be never, if you live locally.

However, the point is that it is this moment that signifies the moment when independence sets in, for better or for worse. It is the moment when living on your own becomes a reality, and when the safe parental umbrella removes itself to reveal the skies above.

But that umbrella is replaced by something: the welcoming environment at Acadia that is there to make sure that this moment is not just an end but also a beginning. Staff, Faculty, RAs, NSOs and your fellow students will all be there to offer support, guidance and a new kind of home.

And the moment when that all begins is the moment when everything changes. And, for better or for worse, it is an incredibly memorable moment of one’s Welcome Week experience.