Fresh events at Orientation 2008 help new students bond

Freshmen at Stanford Residential College leave as a group to an orientation event on Sunday.

The University of Miami welcomed the class of 2012 last Wednesday as Orientation 2008 kicked off its annual list of events.

This year, however, was different than previous freshmen orientations. Instead of the usual five-day program, the schedule is now a six-day program, extending from Wednesday to Tuesday.

“By doing that, it has allowed us to add a few more sessions and opportunities for group activities and people to get to know each other,” said Brian Orefice, director of Orientation.

Also new to the schedule, optional academic sessions were offered on Friday afternoon where students could sign up for a faculty discussion or presentation about a variety of topics.

Some of those included “One Water: A Global Film about Our Changing Relationship to Water,” “What You Always Wanted to Know about Hurricanes,”” Vengeance, Forgiveness and Human Nature” and “Voodoo Dolls and Zombies: The Real Religion of Everyday Life.”

And so far, the newcomers have been satisfied with the arrangement.

“I have already met a lot of students from all around,” said freshman Pedro Di Natale, an international student from Venezuela. “I really enjoyed the Cane Kickoff where we were introduced to [President] Shalala, cheerleaders and coaches, and saw our entire class in the BankUnited Center.”

This year’s events included mandatory rotating sessions for all freshmen to help them get acquainted with the university. Freshmen were led around campus by orientation leaders who explained where buildings were and relayed common names of campus locations such as the UC and the Rock.

Students were also invited to a Splash Party held at the UC Patio, a hypnotist, the annual President’s Picnic held at President Donna E. Shalala’s house, and Movies on the Green.

“One of my favorite activities was Splashfest. There were slip n’ slides and foam pits,” Anna Bona, a freshman, said. “It was a bizarre way to meet people, but it worked. It was a fun way to bond with other new students.”

Besides trying not to get lost and remembering names of people they just met, one thing has been on almost every freshman’s mind: the first day of school.

“I don’t really know what to expect on Wednesday,” Di Natale said. “I hope I feel more prepared when the first day of classes begin.”