For new students, especially those from out of town, Orientation Week is a great way to get to know the city they are studying in. This is because most unis organise older students to take newbies on a guided tour of the campus.
Back in my day (two years ago) my guide gave me all kinds of random information, like where you could get free tea and milk, secret study spots and which bathrooms are always empty and clean (the female toilets in the engineering block).
These tours generally take place in large groups of people who are all studying the same thing, so they're a guaranteed way to meet other students. Since making friends and connecting with people is basically what O Week is all about, these tours and any other meet-and-greet opportunities are crucial to attend.
If you go to enough random events, you may be lucky enough to make lifelong friends. My mum met her roommate, travel companion, and best friend of 40 years (sorry to disclose that, Ma) on her first day of uni. This is a classic parental story that demonstrates just how special O Week can be if you get involved.
It's really important to talk to as many people as possible during the first week. If you don't, you are pretty much doomed to be a lonely library hermit for the rest of the semester.
This is due to the law of diminishing intent, where the longer you don't do something, the less likely it is that you will do it. Or in other words, introducing yourself to someone you have seen around for a few months can be slightly awkward.
Sometimes it can be hard to meet new people, which is why clubs were invented -- to save shy people the hassle of finding like-minded friends.
Some universities, especially older ones like Auckland and Otago, offer a huge range of clubs, from meat groups to vegan societies and every dietary decision in between.
During O Week these clubs set up little stalls in an attempt to gain more members. I always sign up to an over-ambitious number of groups and never go to any meetings, which is super slack. This year I'll try to just pick one and commit, but that probably won't happen, because the freebies at each booth rope me in every time.
Free stuff is probably one of the most renowned parts of O Week. Without a free side bag filled with pamphlets, you haven't really started a new semester.
If you already have a backpack and don't need to use the side bag for an entire year, like one of my friends did, there are plenty of other sweet giveaways for students to get their grubby hands on.
From salad dressing to condoms to shampoo, people can pretty much get an entire semester worth of shopping done for free, which is ideal for saving limited student dollars.
I f you aren't dirt poor and have a bit of extra cash to spend on booze (so basically, if you're not a student) the Orientation Week parties can be pretty fun. They're usually filled with drunk 18-year-olds in cheap costumes, but if you ignore the tackiness, you'll probably have a good time.
However, foam parties and law steins aren't nearly as awesome as the other alcohol-related events that happen during O Week. The concerts, pub quizzes, bingo and comedy nights are probably some of the best occasions of the year and are definitely worth going to. These shindigs are focused on conversation and community rather than yelling and grinding, making them better for bonding with people (depending on the type of bonding someone is after).
Hanging around campus during the day is another way to connect with fresh faces. This is because there are usually fun and random activities to participate in, like blow-up obstacle courses, volleyball games, and popup rock-climbing walls.
There is also music blaring, dance circles flaring, and new students glaring at their surroundings, trying their best to take it all in. All these elements take place under the warm early-March sun, which creates an electric vibe that is definitely worth checking out.
In saying that, since O Week is overflowing with good energy and exciting events, it may create a false impression of what the semester will be like. After my first Orientation Week I thought uni would be full of parties and friendly strangers all year round. I didn't realise that from week two onwards people would start drowning in a sea of assignments, crippling the culture completely.
The first week of classes also misled me into thinking uni would be different from how it really is. That's because there was no homework or content covered.
All I learned was which three items each of my classmates would take to a deserted island. Although listening to 30 people say "a survival guide" was difficult, that didn't prepare me for how hard my workload would be.
Other than some students (or maybe just me) getting misled into thinking uni will be paradise, O Week is pretty faultless.
Some people give it a bad reputation, but those people have probably never actually been. If they went and checked it out for themselves, they would soon realise it's more about friendship, fun and freebies than faceplanting and alcoholic fluids.
So forget common assumption, O Week is owesome and can definitely be a time to remember.
That's right, the 'O' is for owesome.
Julie Cleaver is a journalism student at AUT