I've been reminded this past week of My First Experiences at IU as I've noticed orientation appears to be in full swing. For me orientation, as well as my general experience of being an IU student, has been an odd and surreal mix of childhood nostalgia and present day excitement. I grew up playing on the Bloomington campus- hunting crawfish in the Jordan river, playing hide and seek in Dunn's Woods, (we called it The Magic Forest) and learning how to ride my first bike- a green Schwinn, on the path through Dunn Meadow. As a teenager, my best friend and I dressed the statues of Adam and Eve http://inside.iu.edu/features/photos/8-15-12-adam-eve.shtml in hippie clothing in the middle of the night- thinking we would surely get arrested if caught- but nothing ever came of it. (Fun fact: the models for Adam and Eve were a real couple, and both babysat me) We smoked our first cigarettes in the Rose Well House and were constantly getting chased out of the Union for trying to roller skate through its halls. I remember when the water in Showalter Fountain came up to my shoulders.
It's not that I was particularly wild or some juvenile delinquent- this is just what kids who grew up in Bloomington did during that time. We swam in quarries and we played on campus- for Indiana University was always a bit mysterious with its castle like buildings and grand limestone carvings- it's woods and waterways and wonderful places to hide- not to mention the total lack of traffic meant it was the perfect place to let our childhood imaginations run wild, which they most certainly did. For several years I was quite sure that green Schwinn was actually a zebra, which I rode through an African savannah which was in reality, Dunn meadow.
But I was never actually a student here until I returned many many MANY years later to study film in the department of Communication and Culture, and found myself following a mass of red shirted people at my own new student orientation. Everyone around me seemed a bit lost and disoriented, but I was mostly just excited, for once in my life, to actually have a legitimate reason to be on campus... I couldn't help but find it funny that I kept being directed to follow the groups of parents- parents who glanced at me with saddened yet proud knowing looks as if I too were about to send my beloved child off to their first year of college. Little did they know I was just trying to figure out where my advisor was and contemplating whether I could handle a full course load.
So for me, orientation was much like my first year as an official IU undergraduate: Along with navigating the crowded stairwells of Ballantine Hall and feeling slightly out of place, I was also a kid again, exploring a new yet familiar territory- a vast and exciting world where my imagination could run wild, and where a whole new adventure awaited me.