As this fall semester comes to an end, I find myself looking back at my own first semester and reflecting on all the typical freshman experiences I had. Upon moving to Montreal, Frosh was my very first glimpse of what university life had to offer. As an ignorant international student, I had no idea what ‘Frosh’ actually meant. But one thing was certain: I didn’t want to be left out of it. Unfortunately, for me as well as for many others, Frosh turned out to be a huge letdown. Though some leave Frosh ready to do it all over again and become Frosh leaders, others, like myself, want nothing more than a refund for their money, time, and energy.
As an active Frosh hater, I pride myself on having pushed through the whole week and (almost) every single organized activity. This included painfully long movie nights and 9 a.m. bar crawls with the disrespectful 10 centilitre solo cups of lukewarm beer.
This brings me to my primary complaint about Frosh week, which is, like most things offered by McGill, the outrageously high cost. When I first agreed to pay the $170 fee for Arts Frosh, I surely didn’t expect having to additionally pay more than $30 every day for food and drinks, as barely any are included. Maybe it is too big of a grievance, but is it really unrealistic to expect a university to make its orientation week more financially accessible to students? Is it so unreasonable to think that an event with such an inescapable drinking culture would actually provide drinks?
Most people who attended Frosh will agree that the moments of bonding with your group rarely happen during the organized activities. Rather, it’s during the more intimate group dinners or parties at Frosh leaders’ apartments where actual friendships bloom. Unfortunately, none of these are an official part of Frosh and, thus, fall at a student’s own expense. If Frosh refuses to include more activities for the price paid, it seems like all those on a tighter budget will have to skip out on the unofficial but essential experiences of that week.
Yet, my complaints only stem from my personal experience with Faculty Frosh, and it is important to remember that other options, such as Rad Frosh, for outdoors amateurs, or Fish Frosh, for those who may not want to drink, are available. These alternatives gather smaller groups of like-minded students rather than throwing hundreds of first-years who barely have anything in common into the same sweaty pit. In that regard, non-faculty Froshes seem to allow more space for first-years to actually get to know each other and form close bonds—in a way that is certainly more meaningful than the awkward ice-breaking sessions at Jeanne Mance.
More than anything else, your Frosh experience heavily depends on your leaders and your fellow froshies. Here’s a warning: It doesn’t matter how many times you will promise each other to catch up and have a Frosh reunion, you will most likely forget about it and maybe vaguely nod at each other when your paths cross in the sinister atmosphere of the Royal Victoria College cafeteria.
I might be a professional Frosh hater, but I will recognize that maybe I was just unlucky in my experience. Frosh is not all that bad, as some movie-like miraculous friendships and meet-cutes emerge from it for the most fortunate among us. But to cap off my list of grievances, here’s what I will say: If Frosh was a little less sacralized as a must-do first-year experience and was more oriented toward connecting students with each other, then it might not be such a flop.