I shall start with a brief introduction. Six months ago , I was accepted to Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM). It's not exactly a well-known public university but they're the pioneer in Business Studies in Malaysia. Situated in Northern Malaysia, it costs me around RM 1K (Malaysia Airlines) for a return ticket. I am from Kuching, Sarawak and I must admit it's really tiring to travel up there because unfortunately there's no direct flight.
Well, before I continue sharing my orientation experience with you, I must warn you that every university have a different way of conducting their orientation and this is what I personally went through.
Orientation starts right after your registration. Yes, I kid you not. It's directly! You register, get your keys to your room (hostel) and the next thing is you gather with thousands of juniors. You don't even realise it is starting! (Honestly, it meant nightmare!!)
Orientation usually lasts about a week. The orientation in my university is conducted by a team of University Facilitators. There are about hundreds of them , and you will be divided into groups and each group has one facilitator. Something every university does is to distribute the same beg where you will use for the entire orientation. I don't find it a good idea because many eventually mistook other's beg and it just causes more problems.
The day started as early as 5 in the morning. (I'M NOT JOKING) The Muslim go to the mosque and do their duty while non-Muslim gather in the hall for some Moral studies. I don't know if it did help moulding our Moral, but really most of them (including myself) is just to sleepy to even pay attention. No, it's not that we are lazy to wake up in the morning. You would be the same too if the activities the day before ends at roughly 1 a.m and this goes on for one whole week. I remembered once they woke us up at 2 a.m just caused they wanted to announce something that is not important at all. It was frustrating knowing you have to wake at 4 a.m to get ready for the 5 a.m slot LATER!
There will be endless "taklimat" whole day through just to get us juniors used to the new rule and of course, a total new environment. They are somehow helpful, but most of the time, almost half of the hall is sleeping away. I somehow wish they're conducted it in a more interactive ways so that it won't be so boring. Other times, you will be mingling around with your team mates (remember i said we're divided into groups?) and if you're lucky, they stay with you even after orientation. Unfortunately for me, my orientation friends stays as "orientation friends".
Food are served six times a day. Early morning breakfast, breakfast, lunch, tea time, dinner and supper. In Kedah, food are all spicy and it's not just spicy, but extremely spicy! I am lucky enough that I can put up with spicy food but it was a tad too much for me because even supper is spicy! Many could not put up with it and have bad diarrhea. Some chose to skip their meals. In fact, I had bad constipation through out the whole orientation and skipped many of my meals. The desperate ones chose to skip their meals just to get some short nap.
You know, I was never mentally prepared to go through all these hard core orientation. My sister graduated from a private university and I never ask anyone how it is like to go through orientation. I told you food are served six times a day. Before you could think that our meal breaks are long, you're SO TOTALLY wrong! We're actually given less than two hours to eat and having to queue with so many people, you actually have around 15 minutes left to really rest your mind or answer nature's call. There's really almost nil breaks in between.
With really short breaks in between, there's really no time for you to go back to your room and take a bath or even nap! My university's dress code is formal so it really didn't help at all. Imagine wearing formal the whole day with all the sticky-ness of your body? It's one of the most uncomfortable feeling in the whole world. It feels like heaven when you finally can take bath when the day ends. Many fell sick during orientation and a lot fainted too. Heck, my friend was even hospitalised! I guess it's not really that we lacked rest, but with no bath and unhealthy food, our body just decided to break out.
There is always one day where you will need to attend a protocol event. It is very formal where no applause is allowed. They encouraged you to wear traditional costumes and no dark coloured clothes are allowed. It is where you pledge to be committed with your studies and the university itself. Mine was not properly organized, and they made me round the hall at least three times under hot burning sun and when I finally manage to get into the hall, they told me I have no seats. With the lack of sleep and rest, it really tested my patience! Somehow, having to see so many high spirit juniors pledge together was an interesting sight.
Of course, everything has it pros and cons. There are some things i really did enjoy during the orientation. Orientation is basically all the juniors gather so you get to make a lot of new friends. Everybody wants to be your friend, and you want to be everybody's friends. You're new, you're fresh and you wanted to have someone with you. No one will actually judge you even though you don't give them a good impression. There's no assignments, there's no pleasing lecturers and there's no chasing bus to make in time for morning lectures. You just do what's told. I'll say, orientation is innocent. =)
There's always a slot for community service but not everyone will be involved. I was involved though. And I must say it is the highlight of the orientation. I was sent to kampung in Bukit Kayu Hitam, and helped clean the mosque. The people in the kampung cooked us lunch and we were served in a totally Malay-style. The "makan bersila" thing. I am a non-Muslim, so I really find that fascinating. Then we were served some local fruit as desert and I would never forget how good the durian taste! It was really, really good.
There's also some mind-rest activities and the one I enjoyed was singing songs together. The theme song for my orientation was "Right Here Waiting" and "Permaidani Biru". It was one of the best moment for me where you sing along with friends, holding hands or waving with your hand phone lights on. It's a pretty sight when friendship was really innocent. Speaking of singing, one of the funny thing I recall was having to sing Negaraku in the wee hours. It's funny to sing the national anthem when all you think is to go back to your room and lie down on your bed. Even the hardest bed could make you feel like you're in heaven!
Last but not least, to sum the whole orientation , the facilitators conducted some "soul searching". They will read some really sad poems followed by gloomy songs but the main intention is to remind you of the your motif there, that if to graduate with a degree and not to disappoint your parents. It works to most of them, and the rest slept through it. I don't blame them, I remembered clearly that it was done around 12.30 a.m! I was sleepy too and I confess I did sleep. I was too tired to be into the "plot".
That's about all that I went through during orientation. It was so hard core, but I never really understood the message they wanted to send us through a hard core orientation. Six months has passed, orientation memories still stays really fresh with me. It feels like just yesterday...
Anyway, my advise to those of you who are going to public university , be mentally and physically prepared! Best wishes from me!