Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom back home, watching my fan spin in circles, while staring at an open suitcase of clothing. I was surrounded by plastic containers of books, paper, toiletries, more books, trinkets, and pictures, getting ready to pack up my life and move six hours away from everything I had known for the past eighteen years of my life. I had just written my blog post that morning about procrastinating packing and the uncertainty of what these last two weeks would hold, not quite sure I really wanted to get started. Fourteen days later, I am finding myself sitting in the common room of my dorm, with new friends I have made, writing this post from a whole new perspective.
The first week was a complete whirlwind of names I couldn’t remember, faces that seemed vaguely familiar, buildings I didn’t know, and endless hills that seemed to go on forever. I walked onto campus knowing that a week consists of seven days, one hundred sixty-eight hours, and that was it. But that first week felt like so much more with the experiences I have had and the new life I have been introduced to. In just this small amount of time, I have found a group of people who I can completely be myself with, people who can explore this new future with me. Part of this is so exciting, the opportunity we have to completely reinvent ourselves or try all the things we haven’t had the chance to. For me, this is my chance not to start over, but to build upon everything I am with everything I have ever wanted to be. And I’ve got to say, I have never been so ready to re-create myself.
In the past eighteen years of my life, I have tried a lot of things from Traditional Chinese Lion Dance to running Track & Field. Some of those things were temporary while others were able to carry me through to my graduation day, and all of them will be a part of me forever. I went into this school year knowing that I wanted to get involved with more things, but I wasn’t quite sure what they would be or where I could begin. Then we had club rush, and I put my name down on so many different sign up sheets because… Why not? This is college, a chance to get an education but also try out new things and meet new people. Somehow, by the end of club rush, I managed to sign up to audition for an a Capella group tomorrow morning, a Black Student Union club, The Writer’s Collective, and several other things that I am either passionate about or have simply always wanted to try. Am I good at singing or do I belong in any other club I signed up for? I couldn’t tell you the answer to that, but that’s not the point. The point is that we are all here to meet each other and to pave a path for our futures. These clubs and the people I will meet through them, these are my stepping-stones and I am extremely excited to see just how far they can take me.
Now on the other hand of all the clubs or fun activities that my orientation week held, there were also classes, lots of studying, missing home, and an unbearable amount of awkward moments to fill in the space within two weeks. Sometimes I would find myself walking to class only to look up and realize that I didn’t know anyone around me, and they didn’t know me. For some people, that might be exhilarating. But for me, that was terrifying. Back in elementary school all the way through high school, I always knew at least one person in my classes. Here, that’s not quite the case. Maybe I’ve seen one person around campus, or exchanged names with another only to forget it by the next class, but it was a bit of a change to be surrounded by people who knew nothing about me. It took me a few days to really embrace it, to realize that this is my chance to put myself out there, make new friends, and find some people that maybe I would want to get to know better. I think the two things that made this transition easier was one, a care package from home full of food that I very much appreciate, and two, knowing that all of the freshman here are probably going through the same exact thing. Some people miss home, others might be struggling in class, but each one of us are first years just trying to find a foothold in this avalanche of changes. The point is that whether we all know each other or not, it seems like we’re all in this together anyway. We are the Class of 2020, starting now.
Cal Poly SLO has been a such an indescribable experience for me so far, I have changed the way I study (25-35 hours a week), I talk to my professors more, I say hi to way more people who I don’t actually know, and I’m learning what it’s like to be responsible for myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss Folsom, the familiarity of everything there from the people and high school to the sunsets and my family. But it does mean that I am ready to embrace a new home with new people, bunk beds, small rooms, and no air conditioning. After two weeks of my new journey, soon enough this place will really feel like home and maybe all the people I will come to care about in it can become my second family here too. But this school is my first step, my opportunity to take hold and to chase every little thing I have ever wanted— a Capella and all. So tomorrow morning, I plan to wake up and crush that audition, right after I remember how blessed I am to have this chance to start over and begin making this my new home.
For any of you who are starting a new journey or are in the beginning of your freshman year too, feel free to comment with some experiences or some things that might have gotten you through the rough patches. As always, follow my twitter and blog posts every Friday, and wish me luck at my audition tomorrow!