Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Opening Day cont'd - Part II

Part II - There

We pass Morewood, where all of the other Pre-College festivities are commencing, and then within seconds we pass an outdoor staircase lined with large red and white balloons leading up to Hamerschlag. We drive around to the vehicle entrance, and as soon as the cab pulls up one of the staff members comes right up to take our luggage. Everyone was so nice and friendly. It was too weird. I checked in and got my ID. Room A206, which is in Tower A. Through the lounge, up the stairs, and down the hallway to the left and we are at my room. I thought I was first there, but I saw my roommates’ bag there, along with claiming the lower bed. So my bed setup is kind of like a cave. The bed is lofted like 6.5 feet, and then my desk and dresser are underneath. I got in, took out my computer and called my mom to tell her that I got in. It had already been a long day, and not sleeping for 24 hours and not being able to get into your bed made it even worse. My roommate finally returned with the rest of her luggage, and left with family again. I had no clue where to start unpacking. It seemed like I needed those hangers urgently all of the sudden. I finally began to get in the swing of finding a place to put everything away, and a few people stop by and introduce themselves. I make several attempts at getting to the top of that bed, but I still couldn’t do it. It sounded like people were having a party or something at the end of the hallway with all of the music that was blasting. It seemed like everyone knew each other already. When I finally finished unpacking, it was only 1:30, and the next activity, the Student Orientation, wasn’t until 3:45. I was wondering what everyone else was doing, and what I should do with myself, but I couldn’t think of anything to do. I don’t have my Andrew ID yet, so I couldn’t get on the internet. I started reading a book, but that got boring fast. I felt like I was doing that again. The that where I go some place, and only stay on my computer when other things are going on, like on the cruise or during robotics trips. But this time, I really didn’t know where everyone was and what they were doing. I got so bored that I even tried napping.

I finally cracked open my physics book and began to read over some interesting material, when finally an RA knocked at my door, along with all of the other loners, and asked if we wanted to go down to the lounge to hang out. To avoid revealing my more than apparent social awkwardness, I said yes. But maybe this was my chance to make some friends. Not really, but it was something to do finally. There were a few vending machines, a pool table, a large TV surrounded by couches, a bunch of other couches, and a table tennis table. I observed for a few minutes, and then picked up a paddle, when someone asked me if I would like to play, but there’s a catch…there is only one paddle. So she lets me start out with the paddle, being that they played with the package that the balls came in earlier. I caught back into the swing of things rather quickly, being that is has been years since I have played. We switched “paddles” and I even managed to do well with the box. Another kid came up and suggested that I use a book or folder folded in half, which sort of worked well, but was uncomfortable to hold. I was fine with the box. I played about 3 different people, each time gaining more confidence in my once, and now again superior mad table tennis skillz. As the time passed, more and more people made their way into the lounge, when finally it was 3:40 and we all left to go to the University Center for the orientation. I remember one of the staff members asking why everyone was so quiet, soon realizing that we had only been there for 6 hours the most, and didn’t really know anyone.

Attendance was called and then we received a blue folder with about 30 pages of information inside. A few policies and expectations were reviewed, along with the purpose and motto, and “This is not summer camp!” mentioned a few times. I found the project roster and saw that I got my first two choices, Electronics and ECE. With 102 participants, 33 juniors and 69 seniors, there was somewhat of an equal distribution. We found out what textbooks to purchase and the activities to come, such as the Symposium on the last day, the weekend trips and outings, and the mandatory (they couldn’t stress mandatory enough) trip to Kennywood Amusement Park on Wednesday, the 4th. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to go to an amusement park. A few more general overview topics, a little Q & A, and then off to dinner we go. It was in Rangos Hall, across the hall from the Peter Wright McKenna. Two buffet lines of typical picnic-style catered food. Nothing much to talk about. I sat at a table alone, when it soon became populated with a few more people, a mother and son from Illinois, someone from Pittsburgh, and the guy that I shared the cab with, from Columbus, GA. There was the typical awkward small talk, thankfully interrupted by Damian introducing the RAs and making some other announcement. After that I grabbed some dessert. I haven’t had watermelon in years, but it looked so juicy that I just wanted to try a piece. I could insert some sort of obligatory racial slur here, but nothing comes to mind…and there was no fried chicken! I kid, I kid. After the first bite I remembered why I stopped eating watermelon. My table was soon deserted, just as my tasteless desert was, and I was getting ready to leave when a woman from a neighboring table asked if I wished to join theirs. Great, not only do I feel pathetic, but I also look pathetic. I politely rejected, as I was eager to get back and just rest finally.

I take another stab at trying to connect to the internet with some of the guides included in the blue folder, but I still needed that password because I couldn’t authenticate. I am finally determined to get up there and make my bed, as I don’t want to do so at 12 or so when I am read to fall asleep, and my only solution was to pull the mattress down, put the bottom sheet on, and then put the mattress back up again. Not as easy as it sounds, but I got it done fairly quickly, working up a sweat with AC, or a fan yet. After finally managing to climb to the top of the bed with the help of using the dresser as a push-off, I wondered if there was an easier way to get down from the side rather than at the foot of the bed, and climbing on the chair wasn’t an option, as it rocked a little, so that would be more of a disaster if the chair happened to move slightly. From the top I was thinking “oh it’s not really that high up!” even though I hit my head if I sat up straight, and I was like 12 inches away from the ceiling when lying down. So I jumped. BAD IDEA! I felt and heard almost every bone in my foot crack, but that wasn’t even the worse part. The carpet burn of landing feet first and sliding was an even worse feeling. I managed to get up and sit for a few when some of the pain eased away, except I know that the horrible burning sensation on the ball of my feet will take a while to go away. I think the only thing that made my mood a little better after that was going downstairs to get a Dr. Pepper, except for the going downstairs part.

I finish reading the blue folder to pass the time and note some important information. Tomorrow I’ll go to the bookstore to pick up my two textbooks, Physics and Becoming a Master Student, for $142. I also reviewed the junior schedule and tried to figure out exactly how everything worked. As noted in an interruption previously, a RA came to my door to tell me about a Pre-Floor Meeting before the main one and a reminder for the main one. I went back to blogging and straightening up a little before I realized that it was around 7:50 and I should head out. Girls are standing on either side of the hallway, a position making anyone that passes by a little nervous, but I join them. Some people introduce themselves and make small talk when one of the RAs mention that that is the point of the meeting, so we should hold off until everyone arrives. After a few parents leave, down the stairs we go to the already crowded lounge and listen to Damian and the Hall Counselors speak again, explaining the procedures and things to do tomorrow. After about 10 minutes of “This is not a summer camp, you are here to learn, and I guarantee that this will be the best summer experience, we’re here to help, so work hard and enjoy yourself,” we finally split into groups by floor and tower outside. We sat around and played some ice breaker games and talked more in-depth about general stuff. One interesting variation of a type of name game where you have to pass a stuffed animal to someone and name them was quite interesting when rubber duckies were added to the game and it sped up. There was another game where we split into two lines and it involved something with having your eyes closed while squeezing hands if it is head or tales and whoever picks up the bottle at the end first wins a round.

We were the first group finished, and it was getting chilly outside, so everyone ran to get their jackets before we went to the mentalist show. I opted out on a jacket, as I was enjoying the rare 60 degree weather in the middle of summer! After a few more groups arrived in the lounge, we headed over to some auditorium in the University Center, were handed index cards and golf pencils, and waited for a few minutes before we entered. By this point, everyone seemed to have found their set of friends, or at least their roommate to talk to during these odd moments. This was one of these points where I slipped to the side, observing quietly. The doors opened and everyone poured in, taking almost 10 minutes to fill the whole thing with a mix of Pre-College and SAMS students. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many 16-17 year olds gathered so closely, at one place, at one time. The show began and was quite interesting. I wasn’t impressed by a lot of the earlier tricks, as DJs mind games that I faced throughout the past two years helped develop some of my analytical trickery skills. During the “I Know What Card You Have In Your Hand” trick, it appeared as if the most vulnerable people were being picked. The rest of the tricks were more than mind boggling, where he could guess anything, even random numbers and names written on cards being completely blindfolded with silver dollars duct taped in his eye sockets, quadruple covered in duct tape, blindfolded, and then duct taped again. Between making jokes that would make teenagers giggle, it was quite amazing. The show ended around 10:45pm and we all headed back to the dorm in a massive trail and signed in.

I reviewed tomorrow’s schedule again, played a little Stepmania, which I haven’t done in a long time (hence, boredom), and calculated my balances for the day. I set two alarms just in case I didn’t wake up, stuck one in my pocket, and then left my cell phone on the desk so that I would have to climb down and get it. Finally getting in bed to go to sleep, I finally realized how high this bed was, adding a bit of fear and forcing myself to sleep completely still in the middle of the bed.

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