Going to college is one of those experiences that has been immortalized in TV shows, movies and songs. As the freshman class, you have probably thought about this moment for months. You are ready for that perfect time of freedom, with your cute dorm room and your best friends at your side. Well most likely, that is not what is going to happen during the next week.

Unfortunately, this is real life, not a movie set. So you aren't exactly free...yet. Your parents are probably close by, staying in a hotel for the night, until Freshman Convocation ends tomorrow, and even then your life is scheduled for a week. The perfect dorm you pictured in your head is probably not a reality...yet. It's more likely a work in progress, with your stuff and your roommate's stuff not quite working together, and in need of another extension cord, even though you have been to Target three times. The people you have met seem cool, but you haven't really had a chance to meet them...yet.

Well, it's not supposed to be perfect right away. And Elon is not that made-up college campus you saw on the television screen. Elon is your home and your family. And just like you do with your hometown and your family, you have to accept the quirks of Elon. Luckily, those quirks actually enrich the experience.

When I was a freshman, people called orientation week "Camp Elon." It seemed as if all the freshmen were being forced to do what their counselors (orientation leaders) said, and every minute of the day was scheduled. Elon's orientation program is different. It is much more involved than other schools. But this fits with Elon because the Elon community is much more involved than other schools. Take the time to value this experience. You are getting the chance to develop real relationships with classmates, an upperclassman (your orientation leader) and a professor (your Elon 101 adviser). I live with two girls I met in my orientation group, studied abroad with five people from my orientation group, went on a Winter Term trip with my orientation leader and my Elon 101 professor is still my academic adviser today and has made a huge impact on my time at Elon.

The upperclassman wearing the khaki shorts, tucked in Elon shirt, belt, watch, name tag and tennis shoes leading you from one location to another may not be the most stylish person, but they can be a huge help during your Elon experience. They reported to Elon a week early to train. By the time they get to greet you, they are sleep deprived from training, filled with Elon information and so excited to see their new students. As a previous orientation leader, I can guarantee they want to be there for you. Don't be afraid to ask your orientation leader questions, to play the name games, participate in the activities and enjoy Camp Elon. It is an Elon tradition that only happens once.

During this week, you will also get introduced to other traditions, including Freshman Convocation and College Coffee. My advice to the incoming class: embrace the traditions. While walking past all the faculty, getting an acorn and sitting under the oaks might not seem that big now, it will be. I guarantee you that if I could go back in time, I would have taken in that moment more, considering in nine months I will be sitting under the same trees getting my diploma (hopefully). And as ready as you are to say goodbye to your parents, appreciate that last moment with them. And most importantly, join President Leo Lambert in saying "Long Live Elon!"

As lost as you feel right now, soon you will be wishing this was not your last orientation week. You will be wishing you are not on the outside watching other people embark on their four years. And Elon will be your home. Right now, you may feel like you are leaving your home, but a year from now, you will have a news feed full of statuses from friends saying "returning to Elon in two days...so glad to be going home"