What is an Orientation Adventure (OA)? If you asked me a year ago, I probably would have responded with something similar to the generic caption on Harvey Mudd’s Website. An Orientation Adventure is a 2-day trip that allows you to make friends in a non-academic environment before school officially begins. While this is true, I believe that an OA is so much more than that — it’s an opportunity to meet students you probably would never think to talk to in classes who share, to an extent, some similar interests as you.
I’m not going to lie. When I looked over the OA trips, I wasn’t super excited about any of the trips, much less spending two days with 15 strangers before school had even started. There was an obvious correlation between the order I ranked the trips and the amount of hiking each trip had and frankly, I had had enough of summer camp style icebreakers and other methods of forced friendships. Thankfully, OA exceeded my expectations (even if they were quite low to begin with).
My OA, LA Style, began with the dreaded icebreaker, with the 15 or so angsty™ teens gathered in a circle around our OA Leaders mumbling off our names, hometowns, hobbies, life’s desires, etcetera. We received the details of our trip: meeting places, start times, the whole shebang, and went our separate ways.
Finally, we embarked on our two-day journey through greater Los Angeles. I’ll spare you the details because if there’s something my entire OA can agree on, it’s that our trip had a few bumps along the way. Namely, we spent roughly 4 hours in public transportation, missed the last train back to Claremont and came back at 1:30 am instead of the scheduled 10:00 pm, grudgingly woke up at 6:00 am the next morning (or if you’re me slept through the scheduled 6:00 am alarm and woke to the lovely sound of your OA leader’s banging on your door), and attempted to hike up a Griffith Park trail (a journey some members of the trip cut short with the faculty advisor). However, I believe that all these mishaps brought my Orientation trip closer than any perfect trip could have. (Note: my OA trip was an anomaly. Most trips were successful and many people made close friends during their respective trips).
I am so grateful that Mudd offered the OA trip. It’s so comforting to see people you know around and it’s even a good way for you to make friends with the upperclassmen leading your trip. My OA, and others, have still had “OA dinners” or other forms of OA meetups. You may even get lucky and meet some of your closest friends during your OA — I know I did. Worst case, you’ll get a chance to see what you can do outside the Mudd Bubble. Keep an open mind and you may just find that your OA trip will surprise you in ways you never expected.