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New Student reports: O-Week 2021

Photo courtesy Helen Pu

8/24/21 11:25pm

Whether in-person or virtual, Orientation Week, the traditional rite of passage for incoming students, provides them their first taste of life at Rice. This year’s Orientation Week may have been closer to normal than last year’s, but it was no less unique, as changes occurred mid-week in response to the tenuous conditions of COVID-19 on campus and in Houston. To capture facets of the New Student experience in 2021, the Thresher reached out to the recent matriculants.

O-week was one of the strangest experiences of my life, and one of the best. While I groaned through mandatory dance-offs and scavenger hunts at 10PM when I was undercaffeinated, it also feels like I have been on campus for years and have made such a good social network. It's a strange type of indoctrination that I think has made my experience immeasurably better. -Alexander Janssen, Martel ‘25

My O-Week experience can be ultimately divided into two: a fantastic, quintessential collegiate welcome, and days of chaos and confusion. Hanszen College had tested everyone by the first few days of O-Week, and when the tests came back Wednesday, students started disappearing from activities after testing positive. I remember checking my test results with friends, and while I had tested negative, half the table had to quarantine immediately. I was sent to my room [since I was] a close contact. I had no answers or idea of what happened. While my advisors and coordinators tried their best with an ever-changing situation, I often left Zooms and announcements more confused than when I came. Information was limited, delayed and often felt sugar-coated. Zoom dissociation happened very quickly for me; I found it hard to focus on the fun while stressing over my COVID test result. While I’m very glad that Rice took drastic steps to prevent an outbreak, I can’t help but feel frustrated that my once-in-a-lifetime experience was taken from me. -Katherine Jeng, Hanszen ‘25

O-Week was just something grand. Sure, we had to get up every morning at 6am and finished our packed days at like 12am, but hey, it’s part of the charm. It was so surreal to meet those 2D faces I saw on Instagram or on Discord or even GroupMe. To see each person that I’ve spoken to and connected with online was just a movie moment. O-Week left me feeling like the main character. All the Coords campus wide and advisors as well just did a fabulous job in setting up everything and still being adaptable to the ever-changing Covid situation. They handled it all with such grace and I thank them immensely for it. O-Week just amped up the love I have for Rice and makes me even more excited for what’s to come, whether it be for friendships, relationships and my career interests. Whether good or bad things happened this past week, I say it was good for the narrative. What’s a good story without some conflict? -Zeisha Bennett, Baker ‘25

Overall, I was very surprised by the O-Week experience. Having heard a lot before coming on campus, I still was not expecting there to be so many activities. With that being said, I thought it was a lot of fun and the advisors did so much to help us settle into Rice as well as register for our classes this semester. Many of us were worried about the ongoing Covid-19 cases appearing across campus, and many activities were actually scratched because of it, but the coordinators made sure to continue to provide a fun, and safe, environment. -Diego Palos Rodriguez, Will Rice ‘25

It was one of the best experiences I have ever had! Although I began to get worried once there were COVID-19 cases at my residential college, the O-Week advisors were always there for us and constantly reassured us. O-Week introduced us to the amazing and vibrant community that is at Rice. I am even thinking of, hopefully, applying to become an advisor next year to help new freshmen get introduced to Rice in the best way possible! -Brayant Polanco, Sid Richardson ‘25

O-week was an experience. I had a lot of fun seeing old friends, meeting new people, and learning the Rice way. COVID couldn’t stop us which isn’t surprising since we can persevere through setbacks better than any class before us. I am optimistic and look forward to my next four years. -Ariah Richards, McMurtry ‘25

It was good! False positives definitely dampened [the] end of O-Week for Hanszen but we made the most of it. I walk away knowing I can always find friends on campus! -Nathaniel Morriss, Hanszen ‘25

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