4 Lessons All Cal Poly Freshmen (Should) Learn

It’s hard to believe that over three months have passed since I first stepped foot on campus as an official Cal Poly student. It seems like it was just yesterday I was left alone in my empty dorm room as my parents drove away, both nervous and excited with absolutely no idea what to expect.

Coming home for the holidays and being bombarded with millions of questions from family and relatives, I can definitely say that I’ve learned a thing or two since I’ve been away. This may sound cliché, but I actually feel smarter. Not from textbooks or lectures, but from being forced into a new place filled with new people. Smarter about life, I guess. I’ve learned how to survive on my own for the most part (Mom if you’re reading this, I haven’t destroyed any clothes while doing laundry yet) and I’ve discovered new things about myself that I didn’t know before.

Here are just a few of the many things I’ve come to realize in the last three months that hopefully a lot of you can agree with.

Embrace Your Inner Freshman

Throughout the first couple weeks of school, and being the freshman that I am, I was constantly worried about what I did or how I looked. I spent forever picking out my outfit each day for class and always showed up at least 20 minutes early for fear of being late or getting lost. I tried my best to make it seem like I had everything together, even though most of the time that didn’t work out so well. My inner freshman often got the best of me when I tried to pay for Starbucks with my green dorm card or when my Easy Mac exploded in the microwave. After countless events like these that always left me completely embarrassed, I soon came to realize that I should stop worrying so much and just embrace my inner freshman. I mean, if these crises didn’t remind me that I was a freshman, then the constant shouts of “WOWIEEEEE” coming at me from every direction certainly did. College is about embracing who you are and discovering who you wish to be, and if being a naïve freshman for a year means figuring out who you are in the future, I suggest you embrace it. Embrace the lanyard you wear around your neck and the Poly Card you swipe at VGs, and don’t forget to laugh at yourself when you inevitably get locked out of your room after taking a shower.

Independence is a Wonderful Feeling

From the moment I watched my parents drive away, I felt an immediate sense of liberation. I was finally free! I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted for whatever reason—spontaneous trips to the beach, Taco Bell runs at 2:00 AM, eating ice cream for breakfast and shaving my head (okay, maybe I didn’t do all of those but I mean it’s possible)—it was great. Yet when I looked around my dorm room after a week or two, seeing dishes stacked to the ceiling and a huge pile of laundry covering the floor, something hit me. I actually have to take care of myself now. I know I’ll probably sound like a parent when I say this, but it’s true that with independence comes responsibility. Being at college teaches you that sure you can do what you want, but you also have to be smart and disciplined with yourself at the same time. That means cleaning your room, keeping up with your schoolwork and not staying up until the wee hours of the morning when you have an early class the next day. That being said, it’s still important that you take those spontaneous trips to Taco Bell every once in a while because after all, who’s stopping you.

Yes, School is Actually Important

With all SLO has to offer from the beach to the mountains and everything in between, it’s easy to forget the real reason you came here in the first place. Especially as a freshman, experiencing it all for the first time, studying can often become a misplaced priority. I always convinced myself that I’d have plenty of time to do homework during the week, so naturally I put it aside during the weekend.  However after more than just a few bad grades later, I realized that this wasn’t going to work. This isn’t high school anymore and putting in time and effort to get a good grade is the only way to do it. So now, although I don’t necessarily like it, the fourth floor of the library has officially become my second home and flashcards are my best friends. Put in the work now and trust me, your future self will definitely thank you.

College is Amazing

Being a freshman at Cal Poly has given me more than I ever could have imagined. It’s only been three months and I’ve already met some of my best friends, gone on amazing adventures, and found a home for myself in SLO. Although I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and definitely had days when Netflix seemed to be my only friend, I wouldn’t trade these three months for anything. I’ve made unforgettable memories and only look forward to what the next four years have in store for me. I’ve grown to love all of my fellow Slomies and wouldn’t want to be with them anywhere else except in America’s happiest city.