Orientation was a blast! Orientation at CMU is one of national acclaim; a nine-day convention of events, community discussions, lessons from older students as well as tons of fun programs such as Casino Night, Greek Gala and the Class Photo on the Cut.

I was able to meet so many new people.

I arrived at CMU on Monday of Orientation Week. Yugesh, my RA, was waiting for me at the Forbes and Morewood Avenue bus stop in front of Carnegie Mellon University and led me to Wiegand Gym, where meals for the rest of Orientation would be hosted. We sauntered to Hamerschlag House so I could quickly drop my belongings, only a heavy duffle bag and the backpack I bought for sale at Marshall’s. I noticed my floor was empty, but when I asked, Yugesh replied that everyone was going to have dinner at Wiegand Gym. As a person who enjoys a wide variety of cuisine, I wasn’t focused on what was on the menu; rather, I was thrilled there was lots on the menu. Tons of pasta, chicken breast, and salad to boot, I knew I was having at least thirds.

Shortly after seating myself with some First-years, the center of the gym flushed with rainbow color. All the RA’s were wearing their special color shirts, with a color of the rainbow specifying which housing community they were from. Living in Hamerschlag in the Hill neighborhood, Yugesh and his team all wore red. There were RA’s in yellow, others green, a lot wearing blue and still others in purple; orange (I learned just last week) was reserved for RA’s serving exclusively upper-class dorms and apartments.

And then, the rainbow moved! AB Tech started a song on the speakers and the 110 RA’s began to dance, as if on cue. Fleur East’s Sax blared from the loudspeakers and the floor beneath me shook as the RA’s slid, shimmied, leaped and performed an energetic choreograph in front of my class, the Class of 2020+. We were shocked by this sudden surge of energy stirring; the gym became a dance floor; I was exhilarated that I almost leapt off my seat to join the dancers.

During Convocation, I and another student were selected to stand on stage. That meant, we were literally a couple feet from the deans of CMU’s 7 colleges, the Provost and then-CMU President Subra Suresh himself! It was amazing to be adjacent such renowned leaders. And to be cheered by my entire class? I’m sure this was no dream!

I know of only one other event that was more intense than that first dance at dinner: House Wars. The Hill neighborhood was buzzing with excitement. On a sweltering Friday afternoon, Hill residents gathered all the cardboard discarded from Move-In Day and cut out shields and signs out of the cardboard. Whether someone made a cutout of a crab, or a lifesize ketchup bottle, everything created was coated with many layers of red paint. Everyone painted red paint on their faces, their arms, their chests and backs. I accidentally smeared some on my glasses, on the part that rests on my left ear. That’s devotion! The theme that year was the Hill was a brigade of pirates and no one looked the part better than Aaron George, one of the Housefellows of the Hill. He displayed his beard with pride, one that was blanketed with red sparkly glitter. If a beard could shine, Aaron’s could. He WAS Redbeard, the saltiest pirate captain of all the seven seas!

The Orientation Counselors and Orientation Leaders hyped the entire Hill neighborhood with Hill Chants. We assembled in front of Scobell House, which overlooks our rival, Donner House across the street. The energy in the air was palpable, screams swelled from our lungs to our mouths. Once we started chanting, we didn’t stop. I can remember some of them, others were lost from the sheer heat of the moment where excitement filled my mind.

“The Hill is WHAT? The Hill is ILL!”

“R-E! R-E-D! R-E-D-H-O-T-T! Who’s hot? Red’s hot! How hot? Red hot!”

“(Go! Go get ‘em! Go, go, go get ‘em, get ‘em!) GooooooOOOOOO….RED TEAM GO!!”