Friday, August 28, 2009

George Mason Orientation

I had orientation last night!  It was a longish deal, with a reception for all of the GMU grad students, followed by remarks in a big auditorium, followed by an English Department orientation followed by an MFA orientation.

The reception was exactly the kind of thing I suck at --- standing around with a bunch of strangers making small talk.  The conversations all involved the same questions, mainly “Where are you living?” and “What classes are you taking?”  You notice I don’t mention asking about genre.  Know why?  Well, I’ll tell you why.  When we arrived they gave us those sticky name tags.  On them were both name and genre.  Name in big letters, genre in tiny letters.  Now I hate name tags.  Mainly because I have a huge chest and people always end up leaning over toward my boobs and I find that embarrassing.  But last night, even more embarrassing, was that I found myself doing it to other women, because of course I wanted to know everyone’s genre.  So there I was leaning over people and staring at their chests.  If only the genres had been in a font that was a little bigger, we wouldn’t have been all up on each other.  Oh well.  The good news is that everyone was really nice (although I confess to feeling old and wondering if at 38 I am the oldest), and my fear of meeting new people evaporated pretty quickly.  Even if it hadn’t, I would have been ok, because I already have a friend that I met through the MFA Blog before coming to school and she is hilarious.  We went around to all the little tables that groups had set up and took their loot.  We got balls from the athletic centers and luggage tags from the study abroad office.  

Next they packed all of us new grad students into an auditorium (which we had to walk to, up a huge-a$$ flight of stairs) where they had several people speak to us about the graduate school experience.  You are from many countries. . . GMU has top programs in. . . there are many resources here to help you. . . this is how I found balance in my work/school/family life. . . blah blah.  You know the drill.

Next, I went to yet another building for the English Department orientation, which consisted of about 4 people introducing themselves so that we would know who they are.  I don’t remember any of them, although their titles sounded important.

Finally, came the good part.  I went to yet another building for MFA orientation.  Here I counted 30 of us, including fiction, nonfiction and poets.  It was exciting to all sit in the same room together.  Our program director gave us handbooks and a ton of information about classes, thesis committees, building community, independent study, projects, etc. Here, better than the balls and luggage tags from the all-grad orientation, I got something awesome!  A grey t-shirt that says “Mason MFA Writer.”

So, as of last night, that is what I am.  A Mason MFA Writer.  I couldn’t be more excited.   


  1. I am jealous you got a t-shirt!! That boob tag thing is hilarious lol. I'm glad you got the meet & greet over with and successfully!

  2. I am also jealous of your tee shirt. And 30 new MFAs? Wow, that's a lot! Sounds like fun though.

    And I also feel I'm bad at meeting new people and making small talk; I think grad school is going to force me into learning how to get better at it.

  3. You seem GREAT at small talk, so I don't buy that part for a minute. You summed it up nicely though, totally agree with all you've said.

  4. Sounds like a successful orientation, with plenty of awkward introductions, a metric ton of information and a prize at the end. :) All orientations have the first two, but not the last!

    Congrats on being a Mason MFA Writer. Sounds like an awesome thing to be.

  5. Know what you mean about the awkward small talk. We didn't get much past the genre, housing, classes discussion either. There were a lot of older students who'd been working for awhile so some people chatted about their former employment. I think there were about 40 students at our orientation, but that's because we also have a Creative Writing MA and everyone goes to the same orientation.

  6. i always cringed at the thought of the meet and greet but after getting there i was usually able to nab one person i liked (as you seem to have done!) and that made it survivable.

    and the boob tag thing--i can SO relate!

  7. Sadly, I think I'm officially the oldest at 39. But hey, we've got each other, woot! And, you're also an actor? Separated at birth? ;)

    yes, the evening of staring at boobs was super awkward, yet, the next day at those parties when they threw in people from the other two classes, I longed for the nametags...

    Lisa H-C


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