“What’s your name again?”

 “Where are you from?”

 “What’s your major?”

“Where am I going?!”

And the list continues. Throughout Welcome Week (beginning August 16), I guarantee you will ask and be asked these questions many, many, many times. It is my advice to new students to mentally prepare yourself now to answer these and other questions over and over and over again next week.

You see, Welcome Week is a jam-packed week that is designed to educate and create an inviting atmosphere for incoming freshman and new students. With that being said, one of the best ways to make someone feel welcomed is to get them CONNECTED. Forming connections is also known as networking or meeting new people. Therefore, you will meet tons of new people. And when I say tons, I mean tons. For those of us that sometimes refer to ourselves as introverts, we would agree that does not sound appealing whatsoever. I can say that although I consider myself both an extrovert and an introvert, and as challenging and overwhelming as Welcome Week was at times, it was all worth it.

I made some of my greatest friends freshmen year by trying new things and getting active!

I made some of my greatest friends freshman year by trying new things and getting active!

Had I not participated in all of the activities and events WSU had scheduled during Welcome Week, I would not have had the amazing freshman year as I did. In addition, I would not have met the amazing friends I have today had I chosen to stay confined within my little introvert bubble during Welcome Week. I know it may sound a bit scary to take that step outside of your own little personal bubble, but it’s actually really quite simple, and not as bad as you think it might be. All it took to take a step outside of my bubble was working up the boldness to simply introduce myself to the person sitting beside me during orientation class, or randomly sparking up a conversation with someone in the middle of campus. That is literally all I did each day, and at the end of the week, I had met so many amazing people; I learned about many different things going on around campus that I never would have discovered on my own, and the best part, I found HOME.

This is my story of finding home: It was the second day on campus when I found myself by the gazebo, attempting to find my orientation class, yet completely and hopelessly lost. This is when a group of girls approached me and asked if I was in need of a finger to point me in the right direction. How could I say no? (As embarrassed as I was to admit that I was lost on such a small campus…) As it turns out, the girls I met on campus that day didn’t just become familiar faces on campus, they became my family. Those girls ended up belonging to a campus ministry called Chi Alpha, and throughout our little conversation by the gazebo, they began to tell me about a pig roast they were hosting at the end of the week, and they encouraged me to come. Not only was I not about to turn down free directions, but I also wasn’t about to turn down free food! So, I went to the pig roast, met many other amazing and awe-inspiring people, joined their media ministry team as a videographer, and the rest is history.

Put yourself out there and meet your future best friends this upcoming Welcome Week!

Put yourself out there and meet your future best friends this upcoming Welcome Week!

The reason I chose to share my personal Welcome Week experience with all of you is because I want to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zones and put your introvert titles behind you for just this ONE week. I want to encourage you to do this because it is SO worth it and believe me when I say this week could set the course for the rest of your college career. But, the choice is yours. What you get out of it is what you choose to make it. If you choose to sit in your dorm room all week, well, don’t expect to do much more than that the rest of the semester. However, if you choose to attend the extra events WSU has scheduled for you, you could meet someone, join a club, or maybe even discover something that you may not have discovered otherwise.

Here are some afternoon activity options WSU is offering next week:

Wednesday, Aug. 17 – Comedy show in the Harriet-Johnson Auditorium of Somsen at 7:30pm and 9:30pm.

Thursday, Aug. 18 – IWC Scavenger Hunt at 3:30pm

Friday, Aug. 19 – “Downtown Winona Walking Tours & Treats” beginning at the Gazebo at 1pm, bonfire and outdoor games at 6pm on main campus, and Bingo Bash in East Hall at 8pm.

Saturday, Aug. 20 – Outdoor activities and club fair on main campus (Gazebo area) from 1-3pm, and hypnotist Jim Wand at 7:30pm and 9:30pm in the Harriet-Johnson Auditorium of Somsen.

Sunday, Aug. 21 – Bluff Hike and treat at Lakeview Drive Inn at 1pm, and a root beer keg and lawn games at 8pm at the Cathedral Church, 360 Main Street.

This is my challenge to you: attend as many Welcome Week activities as possible, simply introduce yourself to at least one person everyday, and choose to be BOLD each day. If you follow through with at least one of those three challenges, I guarantee you will have a much better chance at finding your place here at WSU than if you don’t. Don’t miss this opportunity to find your place! I found my WSU family and home during Welcome Week. Where will you find your place? What will be the person, place, or thing you call home? How will you ever know if you never step out of your bubble? Step out, be bold and discover your home away from home.

I can call Winona my home now, and you can too!

I can call Winona my home now, and you can too.

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Erin Kloepping

Erin is a Communications major with an emphasis in Leadership and Advocacy who is graduating in 2019. She is from Brodhead, WI and her interests include videography and foreign mission trips.