Nah’msayin? This City Is Not Yours to Get Oriented

  • Graphic Valentina García Cepeda

At least not in a few days.

Montreal is complex. It’s eccentric, spunky, graspable yet elusive. It’s not something you can just get “oriented” with by walking the streets in large groups wearing matching t-shirts.

And that’s why the concept of a Frosh/Launch Week is fucking stupid. I write this at 5:33 a.m., half-naked in bed. The residual anxiety that woke me still lingers in my pores. The laptop’s faux sunlight illuminates my face, full of the anguish that comes with lack of sleep.

Like most mornings, I react to waking up too early by scrolling through Facebook. A photo album of ASFA’s “Launch Week” orientation is on my timeline. I can’t look away; my voyeurism, it’s instinctual.

With each flick to reveal the next group photo of insecure-fresh-out-of-a-small-town-Ontario-and/or-Massachusetts youth not knowing they could literally be doing anything but posing with free energy drinks and having box-sangria poured into their mouths on a dead Mont Royal afternoon, I cringe at traumatic memories. I went to Frosh, now called Launch Week. I was that young buck from New Jersey trying to make friends, to connect.

Despite my inebriated “Woos,” I hated all of it. The pub crawl, the water park, the overnight camp stay. I remember the MTL Blog photographer who was clearly there to get laid (and did). I remember a new friend letting a leader borrow her phone to call an ambulance for someone with alcohol poisoning. I remember another leader asking if I “got the girl” in reference to my friend, as if she was an object to pursue and fuck.

It’s gross, and despite Hollywood’s insistence, unnatural. Moving to a new place should be scary. You should feel alone, confused. That’s OK and normal. Student associations shouldn’t exploit this vulnerability to justify their $100,000 budgets for “orienting.” Yes, tell them where the registrar is, but stop pouring beer down their throats. Not here. I left that American bullshit college culture.  

Mont Royal isn’t a single stop on a Frosh scavenger hunt. It’s a grind you walk up daily because you have nothing to do, no one to see. It’s a place to kill time as you wait for class or the meeting of that student newspaper you want to write for.   

It’s a part of getting oriented to a new city and life: you realize and accept how fucking disoriented you are.

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