Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 3, 2023

New students reflect on in-person Orientation

By JULIA CHOE | September 5, 2021

COURTESY OF LAURA WADSTEN Each new student is assigned to an FYM, who supports them throughout their first year.

The University held Orientation Week for incoming first-years, international students and transfer students between August 22 and August 29. In contrast with last year’s virtual Orientation Week, this year’s event consisted of both virtual and in-person programs.

The News-Letter reached out to students to ask about their experiences.

Freshman Victoria George expressed her content with the social events during Orientation in an email to The News-Letter.

“[On one night] they set up games and activities outside the dorms, [and] it was nice to hang out in the street and do [activities] like sand art,” she wrote.

George believes that Pre-Orientation and Orientation created an environment that was conducive to making new friends, adding that she enjoyed having the opportunity to meet new people before the first day of class. 

Freshman Hannah Puhov said she found campus tours during Orientation Week especially helpful and enjoyed having a First-Year Mentor (FYM) group. However, she suggested that Orientation had room for improvement, citing difficulty RSVPing to a bingo event. 

“Campus Groups didn’t [clarify] that we needed tickets on the [New Student Orientation] post for it, but rather on the Homewood Student Affairs post for it, and that was really annoying because many people didn’t know that [they] needed to reserve tickets until [after] it was full,” she said.

Puhov added in a follow-up email to The News-Letter that the Baltimore 101 walk should have informed freshmen about how to use Baltimore’s public transportation. She argued that such information might make it easier for new students to venture beyond the Hopkins campus.

Sophomore Allison Eberhardt became an FYM because she wanted to give freshmen the experience that she and the rest of her graduating class had missed. She felt that the pandemic had stripped students of chances to meet people randomly, making it harder to making lasting friendships. 

According to her, orientation was exciting overall. 

“The week felt a bit chaotic at times, and it felt like there was a lot of information to deliver and it didn’t always land, but I loved it anyway,” she said.

Eberhardt compared Orientation this year with her experience in 2020. 

“For us, there were no in-person events where you could have random one-on-one conversations with people. There were no chance meetings or friendships by happenstance,” she said. “Being an FYM helped me make some peace with losing this part of freshman year.”

The University also held an optional Second-year Onboarding between August 26 and August 29 to help sophomores transition into Hopkins, since many students had spent their entire freshman year at home. 

International student and sophomore Jiewan Hong felt that Second-year Onboarding events helped international students like himself adjust to campus.

“[Hopkins is] a completely different environment for all the international students,” he said. “Orientation was a valuable way to connect to campus and socialize with new people.”

Sophomore Michael Nwazue said that the onboarding events created a convivial social environment. He particularly enjoyed the screening of Soul at Shriver Hall.

“It was a great experience: having all of us chilling, watching a good movie [and] vibing in a warm environment,” he said. 

Sophomore Harvey McGuinness, on the other hand, argued that Second-year Onboarding didn’t quite welcome those who came to campus for the first time, such as himself.

“Basically what I got out of campus, out of the Onboarding for this year, was a little bit of a walk around campus and a couple of icebreakers mixed with tours of either [the Fresh Food Café] or Nolan’s,” he said. “I got my campus tour from a senior who’s a very close friend of mine rather than in a group.” 

McGuinness also disliked that the event scheduling didn’t take into consideration sophomore move-in dates.

“A lot of the orientation [events] that were open and optional for second-years started a couple days before move-in was officially open for second-years,” he said.

McGuinness wished that sophomores had moved in a few days earlier to give them more time to learn about campus.

Laura Wadsten, a FYM, is an Editor-in-Chief at The News-Letter. She did not contribute reporting, writing or editing to this article.

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