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Clubs: Friends forever, or just a semester?

Hope Krusemark and Lydia Griffin, both sophomores, remember feeling awkward the first time they met their Orientation club, a group of people they had seen only moments before. That feeling weakened as they introduced themselves as Happy Hope and Lyrical Lydia in an adjective-driven name game.

“I still put the adjective to the name,” Griffin said. “Lyrical Lydia, Jousting Jon, Jumping Jon, Yawning Jan, Silly Sara, Sassy Sarah, Delightful Donna, Just Jennifer, Nice Nicole.”

As they settled in for their sophomore year this past week, a whole new group of freshmen met their clubbies for the first time.Some may only see each other this year, but every now and then, friendships are formed that last an entire Concordia career—or even an entire life.

Krusemark and Griffin became friends last year during Orientation as members of Club 22. This year, they moved into their new dorm room in Fjelstad, as roommates, a step up from clubbies.

“You know what [the new students] are feeling and they have no idea,” Krusemark said. “It’s fun to watch the clubs now and know some of [the students] will become good friends.”

Concordia’s freshmen and transfer student orientation began Aug. 29. New student Orientation commences each year when students meet their Orientation clubs. These groups of new students, most between 10 and 20 members, are led by two upperclassmen Orientation leaders. Members of the clubs are invited to attend Orientation sessions, play group bonding games, and dine together during orientation week. This time is meant for club members, or clubbies, to get to know their new classmates, find comfort in their first days at college, and learn their way around Concordia.

Freshmen participate in an inquiry seminar and either a written communication or oral communication class with their club during their first semester at Concordia. For a freshman taking a full class load, that means one half of their first semester academic experience is spent with their club.

“It’s so easy to become friends because you have two classes with [your club] right off the bat,” Griffin said.

In addition to their class time together, Krusemark and Griffin’s club would meet Friday mornings for breakfast in Anderson Commons during the first semester. Their club bonded throughout their freshman year, they said.

The familiarity with members of their club made integration into college life easier, Krusemark and Griffin said. They became better friends outside of club activities in choir, where Griffin said they recognized each other instantly. Krusemark and Griffin also had a first semester history class together. Krusemark said she was nervous about the first class meeting, but seeing someone familiar made her worries vanish.

“I saw Lydia sitting there and I was like ‘Oh, Good!’” Krusemark said.

While Kayla Goetz, a senior, remains close with one of her club members, she knows most of them now as acquaintances. Goetz said her club had a great relationship during their freshman year, but drifted apart after it was finished.
Having classes with her club in her first semester fostered conversations, she said, but once the classes ended it was hard to keep in touch. This was difficult, she said, because of how close her club was during Orientation.

“One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t make the effort to have that contact,” Goetz said.

The interaction between clubbies changes after the first semester’s classes end, she said.

Goetz said new students who value their club friendships should make an effort to stay connected after first semester. This can be done by arranging a time to eat in Anderson Commons, she said, or by setting aside time to talk about new classes.

“It’ll take more work,” she said, “but make the effort to keep those friendships strong.”

Jon Taves, a senior and Orientation leader development co-coordinator, spent two years as an Orientation leader before he was on the Orientation Committee. The Orientation Committee spends hundreds of hours planning Orientation week to welcome the new students, Taves said.

The excitement behind Orientation is what makes the clubs encourage friendship, he said, because there is concrete planning that builds that excitement for the new school year, from the Welcome Show and Cabaret performances, to the Hands for Change service project.

Friendships have resulted from his freshman Orientation club, he said, and from the clubs he has led.

“You have a stronger relationship with people [in your club],” Taves said, “even if they’re just acquaintances, because you were in Orientation together.”

Taves said he walked away from his freshman Orientation experience with a couple of close friends, but that all situations are different.

“Students shouldn’t expect to be best friends with every single club member,” Taves said.

Instead, students should be realistic regarding future friendships, he said, and willing to make an effort to keep relationships strong. Meeting with club members in their dorms and keeping in touch through Facebook are easy ways to do that, Taves said.

Krusemark and Griffin moved into their dorm one year after meeting in their orientation club. As they unpacked boxes and bed sheets, and made plans to decorate their walls with posters, their thoughts were with the new students getting to know one another outside.

“That first day of orientation is a huge day for your [freshman] year,” Krusemark said. “I didn’t know it at the time. [My clubbies] were the people I was closest to.”

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