Many upperclassmen at Mudd fondly recall their Pre-Orientation backpacking trips, reflecting on the many miles they traversed, the colds nights under the stars, and, most importantly, the bonds they formed with their new classmates. Unfortunately, a majority of upperclassmen did not have the opportunity to participate in this trip.
However, all the students in the Class of 2019 have memories of their Orientation Adventures–two-day excursions during New Student Orientation that could take the first-years anywhere, from the beach to Six Flags to the wilderness. Each OA trip consisted of 10 to 15 new students, 2 upperclassman leaders, and 1 faculty member.
First-year Ben Iten appreciated the mixture of people in his Orientation Adventure: “My favorite thing about the OA trips was the opportunity to meet some of my unique classmates in a non-academic setting, and also the opportunity to interact with upperclassmen and a professor.”
The addition of a professor on the trips allowed the new students to meet some of their instructors in a less formal setting and get excited about learning from them in the upcoming school year. Many of the professors, such as Prof. Jae Hur, the faculty member on Ben’s trip, were excited to meet their future students and even learn a bit from them throughout the trip. “I really just enjoyed having little random conversations with everyone while driving the van,” describes Prof. Hur, “everything from tips on getting your money’s worth at Chipotle to the economic situation in Europe, to modifying exhaust systems to squeeze out some more horsepower from cars. Everyone had interesting insights in a variety of topics. It was great!”
Each OA trip had a different theme and schedule, with several trips involving camping, hanging out at the beach, or eating tons of good food. OA Leader Renata Paramastri ’18 co-led a trip that explored Little Tokyo and Chinatown in Downtown L.A. to enjoy the culture and cuisines, and then spent some bonding time playing board games. “My favorite part of OA was when I asked the frosh if they wanted to eat dinner,” said Renata, “and they said ‘NO!’ and kept playing board games.”
Despite the fact that this year’s round of OA trips was Mudd’s first, the new students seemed to bond over the course of just two days. While providing the incoming students with fun, memorable experiences, the trips served to bring upperclassmen, underclassmen, and faculty together to build the Mudd community. Reflecting on all aspects of his two-day excursion, Ronak Bhatia ’19 sums up his experience on the indoor skydiving OA trip: “It’s not everyday that you get hoisted up in mid-air in an indoor wind tunnel, gritting your teeth as the wind pummels your levitating body incessantly. Our OA trip included everything from three-hour long car rides to (accidentally) visiting the In-N-Out University (which does actually exist) to dodging what appeared to be 100 mile-per-hour fast dodge balls from a very athletic eleven-year-old. The OA trip was the polar opposite of boring, and the friends and memories made during the trip surely are going to last a lifetime—even if the trip was only two days long.”