I remember this time last year: everything was new, Quest was no longer an abstract idea, the embodiment of my dream university, but a real, tangible place. I had just driven across Canada with a friend from back home in Toronto who was also studying out west. After almost a week in a car with just one person, entering this place with a plethora of new people was a bit overwhelming.
One of the main things that I remember is not remembering people’s names. So many faces, so many introductions, as soon as someone would introduce themselves, I would have already had forgotten their names. It took a while to get that under control as name wars were fought to see who could out-remember whom. If you knew my name but I didn’t know yours, you were one up on the good person scale.
Other than that there was getting used to the buildings, the where and what of every edifice. Also getting to know the administration, where the same kind of name-crisis ensued. All these things were just different ways myself and all the other first years were trying to get into the Quest swing of things.
Coming back as a Second year, its a quite different feel. As opposed to a Quest with unknowns, a life with uncertainty, I come back to my home after the summer; the beautiful architecture, the majestic views, the (amazing!) residences, it all feels familiar and wonderful.
Also wonderful, of course, is getting to see friends unseen for months. There are gatherings, gleeful shouting and screaming, and, most of all, a TON of hugs. These people, who had become my family last year, are all finally with me, and I with them. It is, quite literally, a family reunion.
But the reunion came later. A few days, in fact. As a Q-Rep for orientation, I came to Quest a few days earlier than the general student body in order to help the new members of our community get settled. We stacked chairs, attended workshops, and came up with ideas on how to make things for the First Years great.
But what was really great was getting to know the First Years at a personal, individual level. Just as, in my first year, Quest became real, no longer an abstract unknown, so did the First Years in my Second Year. Getting to know them, speak with them, learn about who they are and why they had decided to join our community here at Quest was a great experience; I can already tell that they will bring a lot of new views and ideas to Quest. But, at the same time, I can also tell that they will fit right in, for they seem to share a key part of the Quest spirit: the desire to learn.
Another thing that really helped me get to know the First Years, other than being a Q-Rep, is living in the villages. I am living in North this year, and its great to be able to pop in and out of people’s rooms to see how they are, if they need any help adjusting to the school, if they want to join me for tea, or if they simply want to watch a show and hang out.
Also, the names are different this year. I make I real effort to remember all the First Years’s names upon hearing them the first time. And, even if I don’t, I usually get it by the second of third time.
I think I enjoy this so much because the very same things that I am trying to do this year really made a difference for me last year, my own First Year. It was those few upper-year students who came up to me and really made an effort to remember my name and get to know me as an individual that made my first few weeks, not to mention my whole year, at Quest great. It was students who took the initiative to come to my room, visit me, see how I was doing that made me feel connected to the school. It was those students, students that I am still friends with, that made me realize what the Quest community is all about.
As a Second Year, I am definitely far more comfortable with Quest as a whole, and how it operates. But I do remember what it was like to be a First Year; it wasn’t that long ago. And although I am looking forward to my Second Year with excitement, and it feels good to return home to Quest, First Year will always have a special place in my heart. It feels good to try to spread the love and sense of belonging I got from upper years in my First Year to the current First Years.