BY CASEY ROEPKE ’21
Let me just preface this by saying: I am that first year. I wear my lanyard everywhere, with my free green flashlight from the move-in resource fair attached to it. I post pictures with my “best friends” the second day of knowing them. And I most definitely took a selfie with Jorge the first time I saw him (okay, also the second. And the third). So, as you can probably tell, I am absolutely the target audience for Mount Holyoke Orientation — and I loved every minute of it, from trekking up four flights of stairs with my mini-fridge to making stress balls during the Be Well workshop to having the alma mater stuck in my head for three days in a row.
I was drawn to Mount Holyoke’s traditions even before I participated in them. I felt as though they would cultivate the MoHo community I had heard so much about - -through songs, lectures, and unified self-defense classes alike, I would join the ranks of so many amazing students who came before me. Being in a place so rich in history and ritual just felt right — so when my mom’s rental car, crammed with so many bags she could barely see out her rearview window, officially passed the line dividing town from campus, I shivered with excitement.
Speaking of shivering, the first tradition of watching “Dirty Dancing” happened that very night. Despite the fact that I was severely underdressed and freezing (as a Californian, I very wrongly assumed that shorts would be fine for an outdoor nighttime event), being under the stars and screaming at the top of my lungs with classmates and friends and fellow green griffins whenever Baby did anything warmed my heart more than a blanket ever would.
That night, my first night of college, I fell asleep with a smile on my face, a CA-provided sleep mask over my eyes, and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” repeating over and over again in my head.
The next few days were a blur of helpful tips, workshops, and events that definitively oriented me, but a couple specific moments stood out — the honor code ceremony, my first M&Cs, O101, and Convocation. Each of these quintessential Mount Holyoke traditions ignited in me the very same passion I felt when I visited for the first time, nearly a year ago: that sense of belonging and of being home. The Honor Code Ceremony was a beautiful reminder of the trust and respect that are essential in this community, and the choral performance was absolutely gorgeous. Compared to the tranquil atmosphere of the Abbey Chapel, the library M&Cs were definitely busy and full of excitement, but I felt the same cozy vibe from the awesome community of fellow first years. When the rest of the Mount Holyoke student body joined us on campus for Orientation 101, I truly felt like I had found my place. I will always remember walking into Chapin Auditorium with the upperclass students screaming and welcoming us MoHome. Orientation ended in the best way possible — convocation.
It’s been over a week since I’ve been here, and yet my excitement doesn’t seem to be wearing off anytime soon. I still have so many aspects of Mount Holyoke life to experience, so many brunches and M&Cs and late night study sessions left, many more Jorge selfies, and traditions I haven’t even heard of yet. Even more importantly, however, are the traditions I’ll make with my friends and classmates. For me, that’s what the Mount Holyoke community is all about.