Written by Nick ’12
Everyone worries about fitting in; whether it’s where to sit in the dining hall or classes or what sport and/or activities to participate in. I am here to reassure you that you aren’t the only one to experience first week jitters. One of the greatest features of the Ridley atmosphere and community is the freedom to not only be you, but also to find yourself. You are not limited to being an arts kid or an athlete, but to be everything and anything that you want to make yourself. The friends, faculty and Old Ridleian’s (aka OR’s or alumni) who surround you will slowly be synonymous with family and will all encourage you to try new things. You’ll have friends who row and paint, who do robotics and play soccer, act and play rugby, and all will tell you to find what you really enjoy and what you really want to pursue. One of the best and most repeated pieces of advice you’ll hear from any Ridleian –past or present is to never be afraid to try new things, and to always be open-minded about new possibilities and experiences. No matter how much you hear it, it’s always difficult to embrace the advice and take the first few steps while you’re in the moment, but I know from personal experience it always pays off. For instance, during my first year at Ridley I auditioned for the musical Hairspray.
Coming from a dance background, I was planning on holding a tiny chorus role as a dancer and extra, however I was kindly reminded and pushed by the teachers and coaches in charge of the musical that everyone had to audition with singing, acting and dancing. With nothing more than some Grade 9 music class singing as my training, I went through with an audition that landed me a supporting role in the musical and I never regretted it. I made many friends and memories during the countless hours of rehearsal and performance, and built up enough courage to go on to perform in the next year’s play and musical – Little Shop of Horrors.
Another thought that might bring on some first day jitters is the dreaded picking where and with whom you sit in the dining hall or in class; it’s not as scary and stone setting as you may think it to be! Most students are in exactly the same situation as you and may not know anyone, so don’t be afraid to reach out. At Ridley the very first experience you’ll have with your future housemates and classmates is at camp where everyone –old and new- is there to bond and form new friendships. When you are back at school during meals there is no one more friendly to sit with than your bunk-mates and house-mates. These are the people you’ll be seeing all weekend and shortly, all year. They are the people who will be there every morning at chapel with you, every lunch in the dining hall with you, and every afternoon in the common rooms and participating in activities with you. All of whom, are or have experienced the same first week as you and know exactly how nervous you are feeling. So don’t fret! Enjoy your first week at Ridley because there is nothing else like it! Everyone is willing to help out, or invite you to sit with them, and build lasting relationships.