Written By: Sydney Johnson

I am a transfer student coming from a larger university.  However, having been in and around Huntsville since my birth in the city, I knew that the transition would be more than just a change in scenery. The campus has a smaller population than I am accustomed to, and the number of liberal arts majors seemed to be a small number of said population. At first, the thought of entering into a smaller, closer-knit community from the 30,000+ students of my previous institution seemed endearing; then, as the spring semester came to a close and I tied up all of the loose ends, I began to dread the move.

I thought that I was going to fall into the next semester hopelessly disappointed, that the liberal arts program would not be good enough, that I would have terrible suitemates, etc.  My first initial reasons for transferring were personal/non-academic, and said reasons fell through near the end of the transferring process. The dread grew to a blasé attitude towards the situation entirely. I was signed up for New Student Orientation, though I frustratingly thought that I should not have to attend such a thing, as my adviser had already registered me for my fall courses. Orientation began at 8 in the morning—a ghastly hour for someone who prefers the night to day.  I was cranky.  I forgot my glasses at home, but made the hour and a half drive from my home town anyway.  From the faces of the transfer students surrounding me in the UC, they seemed to share my sentiments (and possibly my road rage from the morning commuters on the interstate). I decided to get my Charger card while I waited, and was greeted nicely by the (seemingly) morning people who took my frizzy picture.

I joined the other transfer students back in the seating area, and we waited. We made small talk about the construction of the new Charger Union (and how awesome the result of said construction will be); then started the video, which introduced us to all of the orientation leaders.  Upbeat pop music accompanied the introductions, which included orientation leaders in hilarious scenarios, some including horse masks and banana suits.  The sour faces of the transfer students softened and laughter replaced the complaints about traffic; the orientation leaders emerged from behind a make-shift curtain and hurled free shirts (always a good way to get a college student excited) and introduced themselves, thus bringing August 12th’s orientation into swing. We were split into liberal arts and science, engineering, nursing, and other factions which I cannot remember as I write; the coffee has yet to kick in.

The leaders, who were exceptionally nice and had marvelous senses of humor, took us into Salmon Library to make sure we had our various passwords and identification numbers/items set up.  We watched two leaders organize and schedule their classes, had some laughs at how much they wanted to take yoga but could not, and waited for the other groups to finish up their technical advising.  We had warmed up to everyone enough that we could talk to them about the programs we were interested in, what we intend to study, where we call home.  After this, we went back to the under-construction area of the UC for lunch, or better yet, for the glorious macaroni which kept disappearing (I got a microscopic scoop). I met another transfer student who ate lunch with me, and we had a good time comparing schools and driving distances.

Unfortunately, I had to leave orientation shortly after lunch.  The energy-efficient vehicle I had taken to Huntsville was borrowed from my family, and it was needed.  Fortunately, I had already been registered, financial advising had already taken place weeks before, and I had my shiny new ID.  I checked out, though I was asked to stay for the Charger Breakout Sessions, where I could have gotten a better feel for student life and the Veterans Network, as well as the panel discussion about planning a career. To those that could stay, I’m sure you had an invaluable experience. I do plan to make up for my premature departure, especially in regards to becoming more involved on campus than I was at my previous university. This blog=step one!  I also plan to check in on the other campus publications, learn if there is an on-campus literary journal, and am hoping to audition for the chamber choir (though my vocal cords are a bit rusty at the moment).  It also helps that I have some great suitemates in the comparatively luxurious Charger Village.

Transitioning from anything to anywhere is never completely easy and stress-free, but being surrounded with bright, flat-out nice people definitely helps.  To everyone involved in helping the transfer students, to everyone involved in helping with move-in day in the dorms, and to everyone in the university in general, thank you. From my experience, I believe it is safe to say that this year is going to be one full of all things good.  I can finally say that I look forward to it.