Summer came like a hit and run and fall is swinging into our periphery, which means New Student Orientation (NSO) is about to commence. In addition to being a great weeklong examination of the amazing drunken feats of freshmen, NSO is also a wonderful time to take advantage of all the school–sanctioned (i.e. FREE) activities that pop up during the week. This year, get hype—not just for the Bankers and beer pong, but for the following NSO classics.

One of the gold standards of NSO is the night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Freshman and transfers are in for a treat as they get ushered into the PMA to enjoy hors d'oeuvres and a DJ on the sprawling lobby–turned–dance–floor.  Penn rents out the whole PMA for the night, so everywhere you turn you’ll run into a Penn student who might just end up being your new best friend.

Horatiu Calin (C ’19), a domestic orientation leader, says that the night at the museum was the most memorable activity for him during his NSO. “Most incoming students go to this event, so it’s honestly a great way to meet people. I know I made a good amount of friends through the PMA night,” he says, adding, “The food at this event is the best out of any other event.” And let’s be honest, in addition to being a great opportunity to meet friends, NSO is also one of those special times of the year where you might be able to finesse three meals a day for free.

In fact, another popular NSO event is the food fest outside of Houston Hall. But lest you believe that NSO is just one giant foot truck extravaganza, Calin adds that it’s the “general atmosphere of NSO” that’s most exciting. Surely activities such as the toga party, where students don their best bed sheets while exploring the Penn Museum, also add to this atmosphere.

As for transfers, consider them a lucky bunch. Not only are they privy to the standout NSO events like the PMA and PennFest, they also have their own Transfer Student Organization (TSO) exclusive events. Gabi Wagner (N’18), co–president of the TSO, says that PennFest is probably her personal favorite. “There are games, raffles with tons of huge giveaways like TVs, polaroid cameras, GoPros, etc—all for free!” she says. She adds that “food venues from all over the Philly area come for students to sample their foods.” New student or transfer or not, everyone loves a good excuse to eat.  

The TSO also hosts a yearly rooftop gathering in the rooftop lounge of the Radian apartment building. There, transfer students have a more laid-back setting to meet their fellow transfers. “Honestly,” Gabi adds, "this is the event where I came to meet most of the transfers that I still keep in touch with today.” The first day of NSO also involves a series of group dinner events for transfer students, which is another great way to meet people.

However, in addition to these NSO activities, this year is also the first year that there will be a FGLI (First Generation Low Income) NSO segment, which provides an unprecedented opportunity for students to be made aware of all the financial aid resources and communities available throughout Penn, resources which are often under–acknowledged. As Candy Alfaro (C’19), a FGLI coordinator, says, “It'll be great to see all the incoming students and introduce them to the different resources on campus."

No matter which aspect of NSO you’ll be taking part in, it’s safe to say that you won’t be bored for the week. After all, isn’t New Student Orientation all about trying new things? As Candy put it, you should “try to find a balance between trying new things and staying in your comfort zone. Don't do something you wouldn't feel comfortable talking about with friends, but also don't limit yourself to familiar experiences.”