McGill Orientation week, also known as ‘Frosh’, has been and gone and what a week it was. It’s carefully crafted to include academic introductions and guidance, nights out, day events all over Montreal and involve everyone. It’s probably the best way to start your McGill experience.
‘Frosh’ began on Wednesday. Monday was either an inter-rez (halls of residence) competition, or for those living off campus, ‘Off-Campus Connects’. This was great for really showing new students that they’re not alone by living away from university halls and forming friendships with those in similar positions. It also introduced us to the campus and surrounding area. It was quite notable just how many students are from Montreal itself and travel from various areas of the city to come here.
Tuesday was ‘Discover McGill’ and ‘Engage McGill’, where students were divided this time by faculty. This allowed for a more relevant tour of the campus from older students able to give useful tips for getting around. I definitely find the system of entering university here from complex than the UK – students can join as U0, to undertake a range of courses, from which only then they decide their ‘major’, or sometimes join as U1, knowing this already. The day also included necessary talks from their relevant faculties – I had an incoming exchange student talk
Engage McGill was free food galore! An absolutely insane amount of offerings from companies that sell food somewhere on campus all in and around one marquee. A selection of student groups and services also had stalls outside, providing a slice of what McGill has to offer. I recall a wide selection of produce from the MacDonald Campus Farm, a massive cake, and many more. Food is the way to a student’s heart, free food gets you there a hell of a lot quicker.
Frosh. Where do you start?! This is where the chanting really began. You register for one frosh program, either your faculty or a non-faculty one such as ‘Outdoor Frosh’, ‘Rad Frosh’ or ‘Fish Frosh’. I did the Faculty of Science Frosh, which was ‘Finding Nemo’ themed, and included a Montreal Crawl, a beach day and a boat party, as well as nights out. Being two or sometimes three years older than the freshmen, and without the same personal pressure to make friends for Uni, I did sometimes feel a bit of a fly-on-the-wall, but a large part of that, I think was my cynical British attitude going into it and shock at the genuine enthusiasm exuded. Regardless of this, I always felt included.
Frosh has mastered the ability to make everyone feel included and like their presence wanted, even with vast numbers of students. We were randomly sorted into groups of around 20 students, each with four frosh leaders, who were older undergraduate students. The schedule of events meant no matter what your attitude to alcohol and nights out, there was something for you, which is an issue I think many UK University freshers’ weeks really under perform on. One chant that epitomizes the inclusiveness of McGill Frosh is ‘WE ARE ALL BEST FRIENDS, WE ARE ALL BEST FRIENDS, SAY WHAT?!’. You can imagine how very British about it I felt the first time I heard it.
The leaders all took their jobs seriously, regularly referring to consent, being careful the general public were not disturbed by us and drastically reducing any peer pressure around alcohol. It was managed in a way that, yes they had to say it, but it didn’t feel monotonous or patronizing. It was done really well, especially for freshmen experiencing their first whiff of independence and being faced with these issues in society. UK universities could take note of this, too.
Going into frosh, I have to admit I was sceptical, but I can definitely say I’m so glad I did it. I’ve met a big group of people all in a similar position, who are all now good friends. It means we all know 20+ people well who we can recognise about campus as classes begin, which will subtly benefit us as the pressures of independent living and keeping up with academic work potentially build. Thank you frosh leaders and froshies of Science 24.
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