Frosh-O, aka Freshmen Orientation, is as essential to the Notre Dame experience as football games. It is your first introduction to campus as a student and masterfully combines classy Notre Dame tradition and cheesy break-the-ice games.The weekend is spent gradually saying goodbye to your parents and forming a bond with both your new roommate and the other girls (or guys) in your dorm. Some people are grateful to move past all the forced mingling and opposite-sex serenading, while others choose to relive the orientation for another year by becoming a member of the Frosh-O staff. One thing is for sure, you will remember it.
At your pre-assigned time slot either 9-10:30am or 11:30am-1pm, you will add your car to a huge line of vehicles and wait for the ND ushers to direct you towards your dorm. Once reaching your dorm, a swarm of energetic Frosh-O staff members will pile all of your belongs into a large laundry cart and deliver your items to your room. Enjoy this service as you have to move in your stuff by yourself every other year.
Unpacking and Exploring
Once your stuff is unpacked and room is set up, you can roam campus. There are a lot of booths and Open Houses to check out. I also would recommend getting your Notre Dame ID, located in the backside of South Dining Hall, as early as possible. Since I arrived early, I actually got my on Thursday and there was no line.
Dinner with Family in Dining Hall
When dinner time rolls around, families are invited to the dinning halls for a hamburgers and hot dogs.
Own Dorm Orientation/Break the Ice Games
After parents leave for the night, planned dorm activities begin. Usually serenade songs are taught and rehearsed. Serenade songs are popular songs with the words changed to represent the dorm’s unique personality. Every time 2 dorms meet for inter-dorm activities later on in the weekend, the dorms serenade each other by singing their songs. My freshman serenade song for Lewis went to Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory”. It was definitely a crowd pleaser featuring the chorus “We’re on the Edge… of CAMPUS!” to emphasis the fact that Lewis is pretty much by itself. To this day whenever I hear the song on the radio, I still sing the alternate lyrics. Additionally, there are section bonding games, and often a musical or comedy group preforms for the dorm. A section is a group of dorm rooms in the same hallway who share a single RA (Resident Assistant, who is a senior).
Exploring Your Major and Academic Information Sessions
You and your parents listen to many-a presentation about your prospective major. This takes most of the afternoon.
Clad in your matching dorm tshirts, you walk with your date (from another dorm) to main event of Frosh-O… Domerfest. Domerfest is a huge, sweaty, awkward, mosh-pit dance where all the ND dorms plus the girls from St. Marys and students from Holy Cross gather for the night in color-coded shirts. Surrounding the Stepan Center, which the contains the dancing, are inflatable bounce houses, food, and sand volleyball games where freshman seek out others wearing their same shirt color for someone to hang out with. All jokes aside, it’s not that bad! As with everything in life, you will get out of the night what you put in.
Like a fine wine, Domerfest’s intrigue increases with age. Athletes and upperclassmen try to snag a shirt and sneak in despite the watch of the Frosh-O staff.
Mass, Speeches, and Goodbyes
The morning starts with an optional (but Katie Higgins recommended) Mass where you sit with your parents in the Joyce Center (basketball court). Post Mass, Notre Dame gives you box lunches and hits you with the full Notre Dame experience…The Spirit of Notre Dame. There are well-known speakers (woman’ basketball coach, Muffet McGraw spoke my freshman), and performances by numerous student musical groups including the entire band! I don’t know how they create this Notre Dame essence, but this morning has it. You leave with chills.
And then say goodbye… for reals this time.
Now it is time to whip out your serenade song as you walk around campus and meet other dorms. You might join with Dillion to learn the Fight Song and Alma Mater. Or eat ice cream with Pangborn. Or listen to the comedy club with BP (Breen Phillips). Or go speed dating with Duncan. Or all of the above.
Advice to Master Your Frosh-O:
- Do not, I repeat DO NOT wear your lanyard around your neck. Yes, lanyards seem like the perfect way to store your ID and key, there is nothing that screams freshmen more than a lanyard around the neck.
- Equally important as #1, DO NOT lose your key and ID the first weekend.
- Believe it or not, you don’t have to wear every article of ND clothing you own to move-in. My mom calls this the Disney effect, where newbies come dressed in their Mouse ears and “costumes” and gawk at the campus. Everyone at Frosh-O knows you attend Notre Dame. And all-out Notre Dame gear should be reserved for football weekends and any time you travel in an airport.
- Finally, you will meet a ton of people. One may just turn out to be your best friend or your Domerfest date might become your boyfriend! And don’t worry, you will make friends! I spent Frosh-O and the beginning of the fall semester with my roommate and the girls across the hall. As the year went on, I found my current friend group through sports and in my classes (in my experience guys tend to stick with the guys in their dorms, and girls have friends in multiple dorms). You won’t be a loner.
- Participate in all the activities. You only have one Frosh-O as a freshman.