Reading another thread made me think back to my first few weeks as 'the new student' in the dojo, and so I thought I'd ask if any of you do anything to help the newbies settle in, or if you are new was there anything helpful/painful, or if you even think it is necessary.
I think my first dojo changed quite a bit of these practices since I've left, but one thing students were taught was to use a certain greeting phrase upon entering or leaving the dojo, or if you saw someone entering/leaving. I found it prevented me from just quietly slinking into the change room, and artificial though it may have been, made me feel like the older students were glad to see me, and noticed that I was leaving and wanted to bid farewell.
Another thing, which I was terrified of at first (as were most new students) was at the end of class, once Sensei had ended it and left the mat, the students all thanked and hugged
each other. Coming from a very nondemonstrative family, this was easily much more scary than rolling.
Again, the seniors were good about not letting the newbies kind of shuffle away to the change rooms...hard to get used to, but you can't keep hugging people and not start to feel like part of the family.
I realize these things were artificial, and yet, they worked to make me feel like I belonged sooner. Other dojos I've joined did not do this, but by then I felt more at home in Aikido itself, so I didn't have the same 'do I really belong here' feelings I recall as a real beginner. So does anyone else have an opinion on this? Is it up to beginners to reach out, or the older students?