New School, New Friends
Both excited and nervous about moving out of the house and starting her college career, Caitlin Giles '12 made the six-hour drive to the Roanoke Valley to attend Journey one week before Roanoke College's orientation.
Journey is an optional pre-orientation program that introduces incoming freshmen to local outdoor recreation and also provides an opportunity to meet new friends.
Once she arrived, Giles recognized Kristina Breux '12, who she met through Roanoke's scholarship competition while they were both high school seniors.
"When I walked in and saw a familiar face, I automatically felt a little more comfortable with my new surroundings," said Giles.
"Both of us are pretty outgoing, and were excited to get out of the house. A lot of people attend Journey to make friends, but we were both intrigued by the activities," said Giles.
During Journey, the group of students went canoeing, backpacked to the top of Mt. Rogers, Virginia's highest peak and mountain biked the Virginia Creeper Trail.
"One night, we hiked over to the big rocks with a few of the others we met and watched the sunset. We sat there and planned all of these trips we wanted to take and talked about how we all got to Roanoke College," said Giles.
Move-in day quickly approached, and the girls introduced their parents as soon as they arrived. "Both of us were comfortable here right off the bat, which broke the barrier for the two of us, making it even more exciting to have someone to share everything with," said Giles.
After Journey, Giles and Breux participated in a tubing trip, Leadership Roanoke and eventually pledged Phi Mu, one of the Greek organizations on campus. Later, they visited each other's hometowns over holiday breaks.
Though they lived on separate floors in a residence hall, Giles and Breux were able to meet other freshmen and bring together new friends. "We all became friends and really merged the two floors, helping us to have a bigger group," said Giles.
"Our group of friends first decided to go Greek, and we all assumed without saying that we'd be in the same group. It was cool when we were pledging to know everyone so well because we were already close friends. Leaving high school, I never thought I would be able to find a group of friends that I would be as close to as the ones I had in high school," said Giles.
Giles characterizes her friendship with Breux: "My favorite thing is that we can talk to each other about anything. I know when I need someone to talk to, she knows my backgrounds."
"Groups change, but we have made a connection that has kept us really close. I know that we're going to stay best friends through it all," said Breux.