In the days leading up to my big move to Manteo for this program with nine other UNC-Chapel Hill students, most of whom I had never met, I was very concerned about making friends. I like to consider myself an outgoing person, but I was intimidated by the fact that I would be living and attending class with so few people. I would be with this small group for the whole semester. What if I was not outgoing enough and ended up feeling totally alone? In light of social distancing regulations for COVID-19, how would we be able to socialize and how often? Would we still be able to explore the new area together?
Thanks to the awesome staff at this field site and the very fun orientation they had planned, all of my worries went away. Meeting and talking to my classmates was so easy when we were doing our orientation activities together. Everyone had lots to talk about related to what we were experiencing (I went kayaking and paddle-boarding for the first time!). My favorite part of the two weeks of orientation was definitely the scavenger hunt activity!
The scavenger hunt was an out-of-class assignment where we were supposed to go out with a partner to explore and take photos of certain things in our new surroundings. However, we all wanted to get to know each other right away, so we decided not to have partners and instead go in groups as people were available! The instructors were super flexible with our request, and that turned out great because I was able to adventure with new people every afternoon to find whatever we needed to check off our lists.
I enjoyed going on my first grocery trip after move-in (checking off finding an independent grocery from the list) with some of my new friends! Afterwards, we made a pit-stop by a small airport where some of us may skydive someday this semester!
My suitemate and I went to a fancy marina and a wooden pier. We got dinner after, where we also took a selfie with a pirate!
I also went to the “Unpainted Aristocracy” and a very unique lighthouse with others!
This was such a great experience to have in the first couple weeks of being here! We all got to know each other through travelling together and now I feel like I know everyone a lot more than I thought I would considering we are less than a month into the program. Now we are all comfortable with each other and are able to work well together, which is very important since we will be collaborating for our capstone project. In our team contract we wrote during orientation, we talked about how we want to help each other reach our personal goals for the semester, not just our academic ones, and I think that the orientation activities, especially the scavenger hunt, helped to instill that value.
Here is to a semester of new adventures and new friendships!
~Natalie Ollis (Class of 2022)