Freshman Orientation: A Guide to Frosh Week in Canada

Large group of cheerful students showing thumbs up.

Orientation is an important way for new students to become adjusted to university life. This article looks at freshman orientation and provides a brief look at what is involved in frosh week at Canadian universities.

The Basics of Freshman Orientation and Frosh Week in Canada

While the name varies by country and the length varies by school, freshman orientation is basically the introduction of a new class of students to a school community and helps them become familiar with their fellow students and their campus. The name ‘frosh’ is mainly the Canadian designation. Most American schools refer to it as Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) and universities in the U.K. call it Freshers’ Week. Orientation is a universal term referring to any activity that helps students acclimate to university life and become familiar with the campus before classes start. Most also promote social interaction with peers in an effort to make students more comfortable with their new surroundings.

Activities and Purpose of Freshman Orientation and Frosh Week

Purpose

Frosh week in Canada includes social activities meant to ‘break the ice’ amongst students and present them with opportunities to become familiar with the various clubs and faculties on campus. From a larger perspective, orientation is also meant to give new students a sense of loyalty and pride in their new school. Logistically, it also lets students scope out their classes and solidify their course selection without worrying about attending classes. Orientation is meant to be inclusive of students living both off-campus and on-campus, but for students living on-campus, frosh week is an opportunity to get to know the people they’ll be living with, as well as the town in which they’ll be studying.

Attendance is usually optional, but strongly encouraged. International students sometimes have mandatory attendance at orientations because their situation combines inexperience living at school with the extra challenge of living in a new country.

How Does It Work?

Freshman orientation, as the name implies, is meant to get first-year students familiar with their new school. Most orientations involve first-year students being led by upper-year students who are already familiar with the campus, school, and city. Some orientation and frosh week activities are specific to certain faculties.

Engineering faculties are the most common faculties to employ their own orientation procedures, but others, like business schools, have their own orientations as well. These unique orientations often have traditions associated with them, especially faculties from older institutions. Some schools have three or four different faculty orientations, and others have particular orientations for different levels of students (like undergraduate and graduate students).

Activities

Aside from the obvious goal of letting students familiarize themselves with university life, freshman orientation can include a huge array of other activities, both entertaining and educational. The specific events vary by school, but you can usually expect a combination of fun, relaxing events, like concerts, sporting events, or beach days (depending on your location) and more academic activities, like student success workshops or university life lectures.

Because one of the main goals of frosh week is to get students involved in their school’s community and meet new people, many freshman orientation activities are socially minded. Expect some team building activities and games that rely on teamwork.

Tips for Frosh Week

It’s a good idea going into frosh week to have a basic understanding of what’s usually involved with your school’s freshman orientation. Does your faculty have a specific tradition? Is there a list of activities that reappear a lot, year after year? If you can, ask some older students what kinds of things their orientation involved, or look on your school’s website for schedules and details.

The majority of frosh events aren’t free, so be prepared to pay for any of the events you plan to attend. Most of the time, one general fee includes a welcome package with certain amenities along with admission to orientation events, so it’s a pretty good idea to enlist in orientation even if you’re not sure how much you’d like to participate.

Remember that orientation is supposed to prepare you for university life, not to ostracize the more introverted students. If you aren’t too keen on the group events, look for the more low-key activities. Most universities recognize that not all students want to be as outgoing as everyone else and usually have alternative events for these students.

It’s also a good idea to be at least a little familiar with the city in which you’re studying. Find out what the most popular activities are, where you can find the best bars, or what kinds of landmarks are nearby. This will give you a basic idea of where some of your fellow students might be heading during your orientation events.

Freshman Orientation: Making the Most of Your Frosh Week

The most important thing to remember about freshman orientation is that it should be an opportunity to meet new people and get to know your campus. Whether you want to spend your first week familiarizing yourself with the academic side of university, focus on the social, or both, there is likely an orientation event you’d enjoy. Universities provide frosh week activities that cater to everyone, so no one should feel uncomfortable or out of place. Orientations are a great way to ease into university life while also making friends and doing the things you enjoy.

Symptoms of Stress Part One: Recognizing the Need to Deal with Stress

Stress

School can be stressful, especially when you have to balance your academic responsibilities, social interactions, and relaxation time. With all that’s going on, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the stress that comes along with this complex juggling act. Recognizing the symptoms of stress is important, since you should always be able to distinguish between good stress and bad stress so you know when to slow down and take a break. This article looks at the differences between good stress and bad stress, the symptoms associated with these kinds of stress, and suggests ways to go about dealing with stress.

What is Stress? Recognizing the Positive and Negative Symptoms of Stress

Stress is basically a feeling of being ‘under pressure’. Anything that propels us toward a particular goal can be considered stress.

While the most common association people have with stress is unpleasantness, not all stress is bad for you. While long periods of exposure to a lot of stress or stressful situations can be bad, positive stress, such as the kind you feel when preparing a tough paper or studying for an important exam, can actually have a motivational quality. This type of stress is known as eustress. Eustress is what propels us towards a goal and isn’t very often considered “stressful” the same way negative stress can be. The common symptoms of eustress are motivation and adaptability, and are the kind of things you feel when you want to perform well at something, like a sport.

Symptoms of negative stress, known as distress, are a little more serious. These include mental symptoms such as a general feeling of anxiety, grumpiness, insecurity, exhaustion, social withdrawal, nervousness, and physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, increased heart rate, and insomnia.

For the most part, recognizing the symptoms of stress is easy, and you will probably know when you are stressed anyways, but finding out how to deal with stress can be less straightforward.

Looking At and Dealing With the Symptoms of Stress

Most people are familiar with the symptoms of stress, but not many have effective methods for dealing with them. Stress can have both detrimental and motivational effects on your behaviour, mood, and both physical and mental health and it’s important that you have tools in place to manage your stress level. Even if it’s as simple as taking a break and going for a walk, recognizing when you are stressed and when that stress is having a negative impact is a great first step. Make sure you plan ahead and evaluate your goals and abilities to manage stress and meet your deadlines in (relative) ease. It also helps to have a positive attitude and approach new problems as though they are interesting challenges as opposed to boring and tedious assignments. It’s all about your mindset.