As I frantically stepped out of my car on move in day, I knew my life would never be the same. Many emotions overcame me as I nervously unpacked my belongings.
I asked myself questions upon questions until I mentally wore myself out. Would I make friends? Would I be able to live away from home? Would I do well in school? Should I bring my retainer? Silly but true, these were the things I was worried about as I began my freshman year at Cal Poly.
Week of Welcome started promptly after I was settled and, luckily, gave me no time to stress about my new adjustment. I slowly waved goodbye to my mom and walked to meet my new group, unaware of the profound changes that would soon take place. I could never thank the orientation program enough for the comfort, love, support and helpfulness it provided me as a first-year student. Although I was skeptical at first, I learned how to be more open to change and adjust to a scary situation. I had successfully survived my first week of college, and let me tell you, it felt pretty great.
From then on, I experienced a multitude of emotions, both positive and negative. Each experience taught me more about my school and myself in general. The journey I had embarked upon was not easy, but definitely worthwhile. I strapped myself in and did my best to enjoy the ride.
My academics undoubtedly challenged my strengths. I had to accept that all I could do was my best. I strove for success, but I fell short at times. And that was OK.
I had developed a certain work ethic and learned many lessons: studying hours on end only helped me to a certain point, attending class was always better than not, staying awake in night classes can only help and a professor’s office hours actually did exist and should be taken advantage of.
The college social norm seemed to be having many friends, attending a lot of parties and waking up the next day wondering what had happened the night before. I only deviated from this norm to realize a new and better style: have friends, go out in moderation and actually sleep.
Balancing my time was by far the hardest challenge I had encountered. Did I sacrifice homework for a party? Sleep for a social event? I learned college was not a popularity contest, nor one big party — despite what other people had made it out to be. College was there to help me grow, meet new people and learn about myself to find out who I am or who I wanted to be. Eight hours of a sleep a night definitely helped me realize this.
I complied a list of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my first quarter:
- Welcome challenges instead of running away from them.
- Always try your best. Even if you fail, you will have still succeeded.
- If you want to take the bus back to the dorms from the library, make sure you get on 6B and not 6A.
- When in desperate times, the Metro cereal bar is never a bad option.
- Stay out of designated bike lanes paved on the sidewalk. (Bikers take their designated lanes very seriously and often do not yield to others.)
- Prioritize your time while finding a balance between social life and academics; go out line dancing on Thursday nights, but don’t forget to study before for that Friday test.
- The Cal Poly iPhone app saves lives. Download it.
- Be true to who you are and who you want to be.
College is hard. There is no way to sugar coat it or say it otherwise. But college is also rewarding, fun and exceptionally, an experience of a lifetime. It is full of surprises and experiences that mature you, challenge you and let you know that you have a wonderful future ahead if you choose. College is whatever you make it to be. For me, college is home. Cal Poly is where I am meant to be, and I look forward to my next years here as a Mustang.