The tell-tale signs of a new academic year are upon us: students gathering outside Howe Hall to pick up their DalCards, groups of young people criss-crossing campus and lounging in colourful Adirondak chairs, new faces in the fitness hall at Dalplex.
As always, there’s both excitement and anxiety in the air. Students, many fresh out of high school, suddenly find themselves wrangling a growing laundry list of responsibilities and adjusting to life in a new place.
This year, Dal will be offering students an extra helping hand in getting their fall semester underway smoothly by hosting its first-ever Welcome Fair next Tuesday (Sept. 6) from 10am-3pm.
The free, outdoor gathering on Studley Campus in Halifax will offer new and returning students a chance to socialize and learn more about student life at Dal and some of the many resources available to support them as they embark on the year ahead.
"It’s meant to be both a fun way of returning to campus, but also an opportunity for students to connect with different services as they transition back to the physical campus," says Rigel Biscione, manager of student development and programming at Dal.
A community gathering
Faculty and staff are also invited to drop by the event, which will feature welcome speeches, information kiosks for university and community groups, food, games, and other activities.
The International Centre, Student Health and Wellness, the Indigenous Student Centre, Athletics & Recreation, and other university service providers and units will have booths set up to help answer students' questions.
"We’re committed to setting students up for success all year long, and the more information students have at their disposal the better," says Biscione, pictured left.
Several of Dal's senior leaders will be on hand to share remarks during the morning portion of the event, which will double as an induction ceremony for new students — officially welcoming them to the community of scholars at Dalhousie. Vice-Provost Equity & Inclusion Theresa Rajack-Talley, Vice-Provost Student Affairs Rick Ezekiel, Director of Indigenous Community Engagement Catherine Martin, and Dalhousie Student Union President Aparna Mohan are among those scheduled to speak.
There'll be carnival games such as washer toss, axe throwing and hockey shoot outs on Wickwire Field, Dal-branded cookies and other food up for grabs, and a photo booth where people can snap a selfie with the Dal Tiger.
Wickwire Field. Photo by Cody Turner.
'A new experience'
Mellody Holanda, a first-year Science student who moved to Atlantic Canada from São Paulo, Brazil a couple of years ago, plans to join in on the festivities.
“It seems like a good chance to meet new people and find someone I can be friends with who can help make things easier and help me get going with university life,” she says.
While some of her friends from Halifax West — where she finished high school — are also attending Dal, many of them will be in different programs and with different schedules.
Mellody, shown right, says there’s a lot she misses about Brazil, but she is also excited about the road ahead and opportunities such as the fair.
“It’s going to be a new experience, which is always good.”
In Truro, students are invited to the Campus Community Expo, also next Tuesday (Sept. 6), from 5-7:30pm in the Student Learning Commons at the MacRae Library. Attendees can learn more about student clubs and societies and connect with community groups about potential volunteer and job opportunities.
Related reading: Get to know Rick Ezekiel, Dal’s new vice-provost, student affairs
“Our team crafted a one-of-a-kind orientation week experience that is exhilarating and engaging, while ensuring we facilitate a safe and welcoming space for all students,” reads a description on the DSU’s O-week site.
Centred around the theme Welcome to the Coast, the four-day extravaganza kicks off Sept. 1 with student registration, a tour of Halifax and a slumber party movie night on the Studley Quad. On Friday, students are invited to the Opening Ceremonies, a key event for all students. Other activities range from useful information sessions (Canada 101, Sex Toy Trivia, Dalhousie Student Advocacy Service Talk on Academics) to social events such as East Coast Paint Night, Queer Hangout, Dalympics and a Sunset Foam Party.
Students can buy O-week tickets in person at the Student Union Building on Sept. 1 (1-3pm) and Sept. 2 (11am- 3pm). Sales are cash only.
New to Dal
Students have plenty of other options to help them acclimatize to Dal, Halifax and Truro in the weeks ahead as well, including a whole slew of activities running until early October as part of New to Dal programming.
On Aug. 31, Dal Student Success Advisors Gillian Hatch and Tyler Hall host University 101, a discussion offering all students a chance to learn more about using different virtual platforms, becoming familiar with Dalhousie lingo, and discovering services that can help them succeed.
Two Together@Dal Dinner and Meet and Greets are planned for this week, along with several other orientation events centred around residence, accessibility, and more. The Black Student Advising Centre and the Indigenous Student Centre are both hosting Welcome Back events as well.
Below, Dal's Vice-Provost Student Affairs Rick Ezekiel and Dalhousie Student Union President Aparna Mohan welcome students to Dal and discuss some of the exciting aspects of starting university.
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