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February 20, 2006 | by  | in Opinion |
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Welcome to the Jungle…

It’s hard to really know what to say right about now.

You’re new at university, or you’re not. If you’re reading this you may be in either camp. If you’re not new, you’ve read your share of ‘Why Orientation is the Bestest Thing in the Whole World’ editorials and you’d probably think I was lame if I wrote another one. If you are new, you’ll probably have heard hallowed stories of ‘O’ weeks of yore from your siblings, cousins, parents or maybe that crazy homeless guy on the corner who overheard you talking to your mum about going to university. All I really knew about this editorial before I started writing it is the Guns’n’Roses quote masquerading as a title. It just seemed to fit.

Welcome to the Jungle. Or Welcome back to the Jungle. It’s all about to happen again. Some things come around each year with alarming consistency, like another year of Salient or the Orientation festival this opening issue seeks to preview. Other things are a little harder to pick. Who would have guessed at the start of 2005 that London would be bombed? Or that Rodney Hide would win Epsom and Keith Locke would stroll naked through the streets of Epsom?

Each year brings what is promised but also what is unknown. My point is simple – time rolls on, leaving the past in its wake and the future at its feet. Time is mercenary- it leaves no one behind- which is exactly where this vomit worthy Hallmark spiel leads into a spiel on why Orientation kicks seven shades of ass and you should most definitely go to as many events as you can. You should, because you can. If you are new in this town, hostel stricken or flat bound you are about to enter a pretty carefree time. You are about to figure out that through all the hype and preparation, university takes a while to get hard. You are entering the sweetest time of your life. You will tune out of life for the next few weeks, wading headfirst into a mire of concerts, alcohol and awkward encounters with the opposite sex and if that’s not your bag, it’s OK. You’re going to find that little crack where you fit in. But make the most of your first few weeks, they really are a once in a lifetime happening. You’ll meet crazy bastards you’ll want as friends and then slowly distance yourself from over the next few weeks. You’ll make lifelong friends, lifelong enemies, you’ll fall in and out of love and you’ll get drunk a lot. Enjoy the freedom. Please. This year’s Orientation, aside from the bombastic ooze of awkwardness that is the Bomfunk MCs is pretty damn good. Check out Shihad, Elemeno P and Ghostplane if you see nothing else, they’d be my picks for Orientation. Shihad Orientation gigs have a habit of becoming the stuff of legend, Elemeno P are a great drunken show and Ghostplane, along with the Chandeliers, should make for a beautifully relaxed Friday night. The big bearded guy at the back is probably me, so come and say hi. Don’t be afraid of going a little deeper and going to some of the smaller bands. So So Modern are one that springs to mind. Go see them. You’ll be grateful.

It’s four years since my first orientation, which doesn’t really make me old I guess. As I sit here trying in vain to impart some sage wisdom on to you, I will say that the four years since my Orientation and the change in circumstance makes me miss what you’re about to go through. I’ve traded in the midday sleep in, the all day hangover and the all week weekend for drinking coffee blurry eyed at a computer screen 50 or so hours a week, and I’d be lying if I said just a little part of me wasn’t just a little jealous of you. In my first year of University I never saw a TV, but now I find myself in a position where Boston Legal on Tuesday has taken the place of Beats’n’Bubbles and Lost has filled in for two dollar bourbons on Wednesdays at the Big Kumara. I’m OK with this change, because that’s where I am. The opening stanza of University (and for some, including me, your degree full stop) is a time you only live once. My orientationing days are well and truly over. The next gut I get will probably not be a beer gut.

But even now that I am a little ‘lame’ according to my younger cousins who have grown up into the teenage void I used to inhabit, I don’t regret a thing. I’ve maxed out my capacity for Orientations. I’ve had my share of unfortunate Orientation romances and I’ve paid money for concerts I’ve been far too out of my mind to remember. I’ve woken up broke. I’ve woken up sore. I’ve woken up sorry.

Time moves on, I got older and this year my orientation experience will largely exist of getting this magazine to you. You should go to Orientation because you can. The moral is that there is no moral. Soon you’ll be old and sliding into a part of your life that’s just as mandatory but comes with a little less instant gratification. I’ve got a bank of great memories to reflect on, and it’s fun to look back with few regrets. It’d be a shame to look out your window in five years time at the first year university students walking past your window and be forced to think about how you missed out. That’s why you should go to orientation. Because no one wants to look back on a wasted youth.

Loosen up and enjoy the next week, year and couple of years. It won’t last forever.

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About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

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