Pre-Orientation Adventure Reflection

meganHi. My name is Megan. Before I even began classes at USD in fall 2013, I had the most amazing week in the Channel Islands: soaring over the waves on a ferry surrounded by dolphins, snorkeling the kelp-filled shores, kayaking through hidden sea caves, watching the sun rise over a vast Pacific Ocean, hiking to secluded sandy beaches for a picnic, climbing to the summit of the island at sunset for deep conversations in the dark, and sharing an unforgettable experience with 17 other students who were also just beginning their new lives at USD.

I first signed up for a pre-orientation trip for the thrill of an adventure before school, homework, and sports started and the opportunity to meet other new students. And as cliche as this sounds, my Channel Islands trip was so much more.

two snorkelersBefore we had even packed into the vans to begin our journey, I already felt more comfortable in my own skin. The Outdoor Adventure guides were so enthusiastic in greeting me, showing me around, and introducing me to the other students about to embark on the trip. The four upperclassmen who guided the trip offered every bit of advice about USD, college, classes, time management, and making friends throughout the week, and since they had been in my shoes just two or three years prior, I trusted their opinions and knew that they truly wanted us to have the best experience possible. They were wise, goofy, knowledgeable, and passionate about their positions, and their excitement about every little aspect of the trip - from the manta rays we snorkeled with to the Dutch Oven desserts we created every night - made us as participants enthusiastic.

kayaking groupSpending a week in tents together without showers, soap, or makeup will encourage almost any group of people to become closer, and my 17 fellow Channel Island adventurers and I are real evidence of that! Every activity on the trip was designed to allow us to open up with one another and to not be shy to be ourselves. Before college, I was so nervous I wouldn't find anyone who shared my common interests or who would laugh at the same jokes at USD; this trip convinced me I had no reasons to be worried. By the end of the week, I had an unbelievable amount of inside jokes and stories with the other participants about the adorably sneaky island foxes who tried to steal our clothes, the absurd images we found in the constellations, and everything in between. We all came from such unique backgrounds, which made conversation and interaction so much more engaging! I returned to campus with friends, having connected with 17 random strangers, knowing that I had the skills and the confidence to connect with my future roommates and teammates.

All in all, pre-orientation and all of the spectacular memories, life lessons, and experiences that came with a week in the Channel Islands have contributed to an unbelievable freshman year here at USD. I would highly recommend the pre-orientation program, and the Channel Islands trip especially, if you have a love of adventure, a desire to discover new things about yourself, want to meet some really intriguing people who share your Torero pride, or just love to snorkel, kayak, and hike your heart out - and especially if you have none of these characteristics and are willing and ready to try something brand-new!