Today is the first day of the fall term at UBC, I suppose it is all over. The shift from a sleepy, near-empty summertime campus to one now overrun by the onrushing hordes is always something of a shock to the system — and the longer lineups for the bus, for food, for anything requires a recalibration of the impatience index.
But the new school year also feels like something of a fresh start, and the students bring with them a welcome jolt of energy. Today is the Imagine UBC orientation, more than five thousand newcomers taking part in what is billed as the largest first-year orientation in Canada. So most of the first-timers are out and walking about campus in clumps of twenty. There’s no mistaking them — they’re dressed in their newest, coolest, back-to-school duds, they’re clutching their new notebooks and orientation packs tightly. They’re doing their best to look so cool that they don’t care, of course, but their wide-eyed stares raking back and forth across the campus, up and down every building gives them away. They’re excited and more than a bit overwhelmed.
Wading through the teeming masses on my way to the office this morning, I couldn’t help but be transported back to my own first day at university. I skipped the orientations, but I wore my newest coolest duds. I did my best to look so cool that I didn’t care, of course, but clutched my new notebook tightly and looked about the campus like a scared little rabbit. To all appearances, I was a mullet-haired, heavy-lidded, apathetic slacker slouched over in the back of the room who was only biding time in class until the campus pub opened. But that was a pose to hide how terrified I was of not meeting the challenges ahead, and more than anything I just wanted do OK, I didn’t want to mess up and be tagged as a loser for the rest of my life.
And I wanted to learn.