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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

CMU Class of 2017 Orientation Week!

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Mudge C2: Like a Family
The past few days marked one of the best weeks of my life, full of great experiences and great people.  It was an eventful week, in which I was introduced to the best of Carnegie Mellon but still had time to set out and explore the rest of the city.  I met many people that will probably become my best friends over the next four years and even the course of my lifetime and had experiences that I will soon not forget.

Yes, our dorm room is in a mansion. - Image via CMU
The week commenced with an emotional but exciting event: move-in day.  Early in the morning, I left my home with my family and pulled up to what would become my home over the next year: the Mudge House.  It was, by far, the most amazing student dormitory that I had ever seen; it was a mansion.  As it became my turn to pull up to this huge building, students gathered around to help me with my things.  In just a few minutes, the truckload of things I had brought had made its way to my new dorm.  Upon entering my dorm, I was greeted by Chris, my new roommate.  Over the past week, I have spent much time with him and could not ask for a better roommate.

President Suresh: the Coolest College President You Will Ever Meet - Via CMU
Throughout the day, there were several sessions and events, but the one that stuck out, by far, was the President’s Address.  President Subra Suresh addressed both us and the remaining parents.  He stressed the fact that this was his first year, and he too was a freshman (though he will not be graduating with us).  He seemed to be a great fit for the campus, experienced as a past dean of MIT, and both serious and humorous.  I look forward to meeting him in the future.

Later that night, we had a floor meeting, in which we were introduced to everyone on our floor.  We made the name remembrance process simple, by adding an adjective to each of our names.  I became “Boss Brandon.”

Phipps Conservatory
We spent the next day with our fellow housemates.  We met all of our fellow Mudgies under the event tent and were introduced to David Chickering, our housemate.  He was extremely welcoming.  He had us all write a letter addressed to ourselves, which we would open upon graduating.  That afternoon, we broke up into groups to explore the city.  My group visited the Phipps Conservatory, which housed the soon-to-bloom corpse flower and Shadyside, where we enjoyed some great frozen yogurt.

That night, one of the most exciting events of the week took place: Playfair.  It began with all of the students joining hands and forming an extremely long tunnel, which the following students would then have to make their way through.  Playfair was a musical event in which all of the students joined on the Cut and took part in numerous events, such as a giant rock-paper-scissors tournament and joining in groups and introducing themselves to each other.  It was an interesting way to make some new friends.

Playfair was followed by an exciting dance party, which included strobe lights, ice cream, and even a live rap performer.

The highlight, by far, of Tuesday was community collage.  It was a day in which current Carnegie Mellon students showed us their special talents, while sharing their life stories, many of which were quite inspiring.  My favorite acts included the Indian dancing group, an amazing dance number by a young man who had overcome depression in his life, some great singers, and an amazing bagpiper, which any CMU event would be incomplete without.

No CMU event is complete without an amazing bagpiper.
That afternoon, we met with a professor, who discussed Randy Pausch's Last Lecture with us and many questions about the book and life itself.  It was an interesting event in which we found out more about our fellow floormates (MUDGE C2 SHOUTOUT!).

Custom Carnegie Mellon Kicks
We also went to an event about being successful at Carnegie Mellon.  Several students were invited to take the stage with a giant notecard with their dreams labeled, and I was one of the few lucky ones chosen.  I walked bravely to the stage with a card stating, "I want to be the next Steve Jobs," and informed everyone of my great dream.  During the event, we were told of the story of CMU students who started designing shoes on campus.  They became so successful that Reebok sponsored them to make 101 custom designed CMU shoes.

Following a full day of events, fraternities and sororities hosted Greek Gala, a night which included much free food and many exciting booths.  My favorite was the frozen banana booth.

The Legendary Corpse Flower and I
After Greek Gala, something exciting happened that night: the corpse flower bloomed!  This plant only blooms around every 6 to 10 years, but it had chosen to bloom during our orientation!  We went around midnight to the Phipps Conservatory and waited bravely around an hour to smell what was one of the worst stenches we had ever laid our noses upon.

Wednesday was a day in which students were equipped with skills that would help them the rest of their lives.  During the morning, my fellow Mudgies and I took part in the Family Matters assembly, in which we were introduced to a superhero, who is 98 percent effective in all that he does: Condom Man.  Condom Man began by taking part in an educational skit.  He then sang an educational song and made a grand exit by making it rain with free condoms.

That afternoon, I then met with some fellow students who enjoyed music and had a jam session (though none of us brought amps).

Later that evening, I was taken with the Carnegie Institute of Technology students to Funfest, an area with glow bowling, laser tag, and free arcade games.  It was a great night.  We met many new people in our discipline and students competed to make an official CIT chant.

On Thursday, we spent the day with those in our major.  I went to both the Biomedical and Electrical and Computer Engineering sessions, where I gained helpful knowledge in both fields.  We then went to lunch and sat with those in our intended major.
That night marked the biggest event of Orientation: Convocation.  Convocation is essentially the opposite of graduation, in which all students are gathered together to celebrate the beginning of their education.  It commenced with the famous bagpipes.  The new President Suresh then shared his words of wisdom with the class.  He then introduced each school.  As each school stood up, all of its students showed their CMU pride with a cheer.  Our cheer was "CIT, CIT, WE HAVE JOB SECURITY!"

My roommate Chris and I on the Clipper
Following Convocation, we then had a nice dinner and made our way to the Gateway Clipper Cruise.  We rode it around Pittsburgh on the famous three rivers.  The cruise was full of spectacular sights, exciting dancing, and the meeting of many new people.

The Best Sandwich Shop in Pittsburgh
Friday was our first free day.  We spent it exploring and sightseeing around the city.  We made our way to Primanti Brother's, where we had a cheese steak (which is the second most popular item after beer).  We then ventured to the South Side, walking about two miles to make it to what is known as one of the best destinations for college students.

My Mudge Swag
That evening was the most exciting part of Orientation: House Wars.  Upon arriving back from the South Side, we found everyone in the Mudge courtyard, assembling mascot costumes, a flag, and painting their own personal t-shirts.  I took my shot at making the jersey in the picture above.

House Wars Preparation

We then marched, cheering loudly and having a face-off with the Stever House on the way.  We slowly made our way to the Cut, the large grass area that makes up the center of the campus.  As we made our way dressed in purple past the crosswalk, I can only imagine what those sitting in their cars were thinking: these kids must be a bunch of nerd.  To this, I would tell them that yes, I am a nerd, and I am proud of it.

House Wars!
Each house assembled on the Cut, trying to instill fear on the surrounding houses.  We then split into groups, taking part in eight events, including a water balloon toss and a puzzle challenge.  The Mudge House did not end up winning, but we still live in a mansion.

Never doing this again.  Ever.
After House Wars, we took part in Late Night Bingo.  We stayed there strongly for three hours until one in the morning, but left home empty handed.  I became quite angry when I saw people carrying multiple sweatshirts.  However, the people felt bad for me and several others and gave us free cups.

A friend I made kayaking - via Lindsey Chinn
On Saturday, my friends and I went kayaking on the Conemaugh River through Pittsburgh Outdoor Connections.  It was a great day in which we paddled seven miles and met some great people.  Unfortunately, it ran over the scheduled time, and we did not make it back for the talent show.  I heard that it was quite impressive, and the video is linked below.

Awesome art at the Shadyside Art Festival
Sunday marked the last day of being in Orientation.  Tomorrow, we would officially be CMU students.  On this day, my family came to visit.  I went with them to Shadyside, where we went to the art festival, and I bought an awesome piece of art.  It was a man playing a guitar made of recycled electronics: impressive and environmentally friendly!

Later, our mentors took us around campus, helpfully showing us where all of our classes were.  I was thankful for that on Monday.

These people added so much to our experience - via Lindsay Kincaid
That evening marked an emotional moment: our Orientation Counselors were parting from us.  They had done so much for us over the last week, and I hope to see them around campus.  They had helped to create a floor of some of the closest friends on campus and make some amazing memories.  I thank them greatly.

Orientation Week was one of the best weeks of my life.  Carnegie Mellon has an amazing orientation program that has helped me to make many friends and move smoothly from high school to college.  I am grateful for all of those that put hard work into making this happen, and I cannot wait to start my career as a Carnegie Mellon student.
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