Common Misconceptions about NSOP

by Ama Debrah

Don’t worry… Columbia’s campus is still
hopelessly confusing, even to a lot of
current students.

NSOP is upon us, and while it’s easy to get caught up in the whirl of orientation activities, some things might not go exactly how you expect. Here are some on getting through the rest of NSOP without breaking a sweat.

It’s OK if…

You don’t go to every event
At the beginning of my NSOP, I was still having issues breaking out of my high school “attendance is always mandatory OR ELSE YOU WILL GET A DEMERIT AND NEVER GET INTO COLLEGE” mindset. For the first three days, I frantically went to every single event outlined in the NSOP handbook, even arriving fifteen minutes early to the events marked as “mandatory.” By the fourth day, I was mentally and physically exhausted. Frankly, I was so busy trying to attend every activity that I wasn’t really enjoying myself or getting to know anyone past awkward introductory remarks. After finally ditching a smaller event to go shopping in Herald’s Square with my roommates, I realized that taking some time off to enjoy the city and just chill with new acquaintances is actually a big part of what NSOP is about. The reason why NSOP is so chock-full of events at every second of the day is to prevent you from having a panic-attack while sitting alone in your dorm room—not to stress you out. That being said, do go to most of the events because they are really fun and informative. But if it gets to the point where NSOP is becoming more stressful than actually attending classes, it’s time to take a timeout and go try the Broadway milkshake at Tom’s.

You aren’t becoming best buds with your entire OL group
Although lots of incoming freshmen form super close long-lasting friendships with the members of their OL groups, it’s okay if you don’t find your bosom buddy the first week of school. To be honest, a lot of your OL peeps are going to remain awkward acquaintances that you feel obliged to wave at for the rest of your four years at Barnard So, don’t worry if you haven’t found your bridesmaids after NSOP, but just know that in time, you’ll find your Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha.

You’ve been repeating the same three lines to every person you meet
Repeat after me: name, hometown, projected major. Face it, for the most part, NSOP is extremely awkward. Unless you’re professionally trained in the art of small talk, you’ll start running out of things to talk about while meeting 30+ new people a day. You will ask and be asked these same three questions until you’ll feel it necessary to write on a sandwich board that you’re debating between a Political Science and Economics major. The real challenge is trying to continue the conversation after these questions have been asked. (Try going for the awkward “So… do you like music?”)

You still don’t know your way around Columbia
Although Columbia is relatively small compared to a lot of colleges, memorizing the names and locations of each building is a little tricky, especially if you have zero sense of direction (like myself). But once classes start, you’ll get the hang of it, even if it means showing up five (or fifteen) minutes late to class occasionally. Because, really, who’s paying attention during those campus tours anyway?

NSOP isn’t the best week of your life
After pouring over the endless brochures and first-year guides that Barnard sent out in the weeks leading up to NSOP, you may have come across multiple suspiciously perky testimonies like, “NSOP is the most fun you will have in college, so make the most of it!” When I first arrived at Barnard, I wasn’t only expecting NSOP to be the best week in college, but probably the best week of my life. When NSOP came to a close, while I had a lot of fun, I couldn’t help thinking, “Was that it? Is my college experience just going to go downhill from here?” After classes started, I realized that that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Most importantly, NSOP is not college.
After the first week of classes, my roommates and I came to the conclusion that while NSOP was super fun, it was more similar to summer camp than any actual tutorial to how college life was going to be. So moral of the story: Enjoy NSOP. It’s a good time. But at the same time, get pumped for college to actually start, because that’s when the real world begins.

Ama Debrah is a junior at Barnard and Features and On Campus editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

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