University of Calgary

Lost? You’re not in Ponoka anymore

UToday HomeSeptember 5, 2013

By Andrea Kingwell

Students imitate the athletes depicted in the Olympic Arch statue on campus, as the University of Calgary marks Fall Orientation Week with a Resource Fair and other special activities. Photo by Riley BrandtStudents imitate the athletes depicted in the Olympic Arch statue on campus, as the University of Calgary marks Fall Orientation Week with a Resource Fair and other special activities. Photo by Riley BrandtIf there was any studying going on this week among first-year students enjoying boisterous Orientation Week activities and induction events, it was of a campus map.

Overwhelmed by the size of the university, the sheer number of students, and the scope of the challenges ahead, new students seemed excited but also preoccupied by the logistics of finding their way to class, getting ID cards, and getting settled.

“I’ve been on campus already, had a look around and gone to all my classes so I’m not super dorky on the first day,” said first-year engineering student Christina Schaefer, who is from Calgary and is very happy to have her twin sister here for company.

Education student Harriet Evans was wide-eyed as she took in the colour, the noise, and the thousands of fellow first-year students at the induction ceremony. “My graduating class in Ponoka had 200 kids so for me this is like, ‘Oh my God,’” she said, adding that in fact there are 10 other Ponoka grads among the first-year students.

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Saeed Mohammed is here from Singapore. He’s enrolled in sciences and has been impressed by the city, residence, and the university. “It’s a different environment, first of all, with four seasons. The people are very friendly and polite,” he says. After a long look at a cheering Rex, the Dinos mascot, Mohammed did have a quizzical expression on his face and one lingering question, “Can you tell me, what it is — the Dinos?”

University of Calgary students participate in the Resource Fair, a part of Orientation Week, on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Photo by Riley BrandtUniversity of Calgary students participate in the Resource Fair, a part of Orientation Week, on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Photo by Riley BrandtEven Calgary natives can have trouble navigating. “For me, what’s different is in high school I knew all the hallways, all the teachers, where I was going and I knew where the good parking spots were. Here, it’s super overwhelming because it’s such a huge school,” says Vicky Bobotan, studying biological sciences in hopes of one day becoming a vet.

Many students do have a future career like that in mind. Others, like Chase Clarke and Keith Johnstone, chose their field inspired by an outstanding high school teacher. “We had an excellent biology teacher at Scarlett, and he made you realize how important and interesting science is, that’s why I’m here,” Johnstone said.

Then again, maybe it’s a TV show that decides your future. “I used to watch Dragon’s Den when I was young, so that’s why I’m in business,” said Casey Peter, now a student in the Haskayne School.

As for the studying to come, some students seemed confident they were well prepared, or at least hoped they were. “I’ve heard in engineering you either get good grades, or have fun,” Christina Schaefer says. “And I’m more likely to choose fun, which is why I’m living at home so my parents can whip me into shape.”

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