Not gonna lie, going to freshman orientation not knowing what to expect, where I was supposed to go, or how much sunscreen to put on was nerve-racking. The moment we pulled onto campus, butterflies invaded my stomach and what I was looking forward to for weeks was suddenly the last thing I wanted to do. Finding parking was impossible, I was already late as I made my way to North Mountain Lawn to check in and get my dorm key for the night. I felt out of place and unprepared.
I put my stuff in Santa Lucia, room 114, and made my way to the University Union to check in again, only this check in was for the entire event. The whole time I was texting my roommate hoping to finally meet her in person. I went to the PAC and introduced myself to her and her mom and sat with the two of them in the first of many educational pep talks. The auditorium was filled with freshmen and their parents and it all started to hit me in one huge wave: I graduated highschool, I’m going to college, WHAT?!
We were divided into groups and I was separated from my roommate, forced to be social. The rest of the day felt like the most jam-packed tour I’ve ever been on. Our extremely informative SLO Days leader (love ya, Brooke!) took us all over campus and essentially explained how to live on campus. The sweat, the sunburn, and the cool water fountain further reminded me of why I chose Cal Poly. Sure, my feet were killing me by the end of the day and yes, the amount of information we were expected to retain was overwhelming but all of that further established my feeling of home.
After a full day of walking and knowledge (and amazing food, by the way), we were given a break. I met back up with my roommate and a few people from my tour group and we bonded over a Coca-cola commercial, PokemonGo, and a classic game of Apples to Apples. We all exchanged numbers and explored the Rec Center and I forgot all my hesitancy from the morning.
We had a really interesting talk about diversity and respecting each other. All of us were exhausted from the day but I don’t think there was one person in the room who didn’t somewhat appreciate the unorthodox experience. (I won’t spoil it for you.) Finally, I went back to my dorm room and waited to meet my roomies for the night, one of whom was actually in my group all day.
Despite the countless lectures on what not to do, it was an amazing weekend filled with free swag and new friends. While I’m sad it’s over, I’m pumped to go back in September for Week of Welcome. Orientation made me feel truly welcome.