Essays by Students in English 134, Fall Quarter 2001

The writing assignment asked students enrolled in a section of English 134 to write an essay on the first three months of college that would be truly helpful to seniors in high school. The results follow:.



College: It's Nothing Like High School

*Names have been changed to protect people's privacy.

"As a result of the meeting on October 10, 2001, it is recommended that your housing license be revoked. You are to attend a final hearing scheduled between *Sarah Feinstein, *Joshua Pierce, and yourself at 12:30 pm, Friday October 12, 2001, in the Sierra Madre Conference room." Tears streamed down my face as I rushed out of Joushua the CSD (Coordinator of Student Development's) office. "How can this be happening to me?! I have never been in trouble in my entire life, and within the first month of college, I am already about to be kicked out of the dorms?" I could not believe it; it seemed as if I was doomed. I had never been more terrified in my life! What would my parents say? Where was I going to live if it was decided I was not a positive "Residence Hall community member?" Panic overwhelmed me as I sat awaiting my fate.

It had all started out innocent enough. My friend *Kayla and I had decided we were going to go to a fraternity party with some of the girls from her sorority. We took our time getting ready that fateful Saturday night, trying on different outfits and doing our hair and makeup. Apparently we were a little too leisurely about preparing ourselves for the evening because all at once we realized that we were going to be late to meet our friends. Pre-partying (starting to drink before you go to a party) seemed essential; after all, most frats only serve beer, which is far from tantalizing to the taste buds. So, we grabbed some Smirnoff vodka, downed over half the bottle in about twenty minutes, and scurried off to Kayla's sorority house.

Once we got to the party we both got a little crazy and had a couple beers each, but it was not long before we realized that our speedy shot slamming session had probably not been the best idea. Instead of continuing on to the next party with our friends, we called a sober sister from Kayla's sorority to take us back to the dorms. We thought we were doing the safest thing; our Resident Advisor *Hannah told us that if we were ever intoxicated that she would rather have us out of harm's way at home than passed out at a party somewhere. As soon as we got back to our dorm, we quietly went to the third floor bathroom and proceeded to expel the alcohol from our systems. After remaining in the stalls for a few minutes, a cold "Are you alright?" resounded through our ears. It was Hannah; we might have panicked, but since I remembered what she had told us, I did not think we could get in trouble. I responded that we were fine, and a moment later Kayla and I stumbled down the hall to my bedroom. And that was that, right?

Wrong. Two days later, Kayla and I both had notes on our doors informing us that we had been documented for being intoxicated in the residence halls. I could not believe it! I mean, Hannah told us that as long as we did not have alcohol in the halls and were not running around causing a disturbance, she did not have a problem with us drinking. To make a very long story short, I was allowed to remain in the dorms on very strict probation, and I was forced to attend an Alcohol 101 class. Kayla, unfortunately, was not so lucky since it was her second offense. She has since moved out of the dorms and into an apartment off-campus, and I miss having her down the hall terribly.

When I was in high school, I thought of college as a never-ending party scene that would require little more brain exertion than I had always exercised in the past. In only three months, I have completely disregarded the hopes of a "Club Med" college experience and discovered many harsh realities, one of the most cruel being that my newfound freedom comes with consequences that I must take responsibility for. Many of the rumors you hear about college are in fact true; for one, fighting the infamous "freshman fifteen" really is amazingly difficult, considering the lack of options in on-campus dining. Alcohol most certainly is found in much greater quantities at all the parties you attend, and coming to school equipped with a few bottles of Excedrin for that exquisite morning-after hangover is vital for surviving the weekend. There are, however, some bits of information that I wish had been imparted on me before I moved into a new school and a new life at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Something I would have liked to have known before setting foot in my first quarter classes is that waiting to study for your midterms and finals and not keeping up with your reading really is stupid. I know that this is something that has been drilled into our heads for years, and that parents and teachers alike have tried to tell us what a horrible thing procrastination is. In high school, however, you could pull an all-nighter before a big test and you would be all right. College is definitely not the same way. Take my History class, for example. It was not something I particularly wanted to take, but it is a support course for my Speech Communication major, so at first I tried to make the best of it. I quickly learned that I hate the class; it is every day at 9 AM and my teacher speaks completely monotone, does nothing but lecture, and gives us absolutely no opportunity to participate. I fell behind in the reading and did not start studying for the midterm, which was worth thirty percent of my grade, until three days before the exam. I stayed up all night for two days and read sixteen chapters, which were impossible to absorb, and then realized the day before that I had missed class the day Professor *Stamper handed out the study outline. (Another lesson: being allowed to choose when to go to class is not a blessing! When you get the option of staying in your warm bed after a few hours of sleep or going to listen to a boring lecture, which do you think you are going to choose?) So, in one night, I crammed as much as I could and ended up getting a 'C.' Granted, it is a passing grade, but certainly does not live up to my personal expectations about how I could have scored if I had worked harder. If you do not keep up with the reading from day one, I guarantee that come finals week you will be kicking yourself, wishing you had just gotten it out of the way when you were told to.

One of my most surprising findings is that parents do not always accept your quickly developing maturity as fast as you are growing into it. I was always told that once you got to college, your parents were bound to relax since they must realize that you have been living on your own and are capable of making your own decisions. This wonderful notion was immediately thrown into the wind when I came home for Thanksgiving. At first, everything was going smoothly; the first night I was back I went to UC Berkeley to visit my friend Sara, all without even the hint of an argument from my mother. But, when I called her to let her know I had made it to Sara's dorm in one piece, my mom then informed me that she wanted me home at 1 AM. I was furious! This had been my curfew during my senior year of high school, and I had been living curfew-free for months. I believe that the time one is told to be home is a direct reflection of the level of responsibility one is capable of attending to, and there was no way that I was at the same place I had been three months prior. No matter how much I tried to reason with my mother, she reiterated "Things are different when I am home," and that they were the ones paying my bills. And kids, this is true. No matter how much you want to fight it, mommy and daddy are still holding the purse strings, whether you are 18 or not. Sometimes it is best to sit back, shut up, and do what they ask because if you do not, you could face some serious repercussions. (This happens when you get your tongue pierced after your parents specifically tell you not to, and they decide to withhold money from you.)

Although it is true that sometimes you have to do what you are told, there comes a point when doing what makes you happy is truly the best thing. From the time I was a little girl, I have been involved in the sport of swimming. I started out on a summer league team, joined year-round competition after seventh grade, and switched to an extremely intense club team, MSJA, my junior year of high school. My coach *Danielle was a woman you did not want to mess with; not only was her physical stature intimidating, but her ability to emotionally manipulate her swimmers was something that anyone would marvel at. Danielle had me convinced that I had to swim in college. So, I went through all the right procedures; I sent information about myself to coaches, got letters of recommendation, and even went on a recruiting trip to Cal Poly. In the back of my mind I knew that I was not passionate about swimming anymore and that I had become completely burnt out. But, out of pure fear of Danielle and what the other swimmers might think, I signed with Cal Poly and was even offered a small scholarship. By the end of the summer, I knew that I had probably made the wrong decision by agreeing to swim at school, but I decided to give it a chance. I thought that maybe it was just Danielle I did not like, and that swimming was something I still really wanted to do. A month of practices with Poly's team went by, and I was still dreading every practice I would have to go to and I was not looking forward to missing out on activities with my friends when I would be gone at away meets. Finally, I made a command decision: I decided to quit swimming competitively. I learned that doing what you want, regardless of what others may want for you, is absolutely crucial. Life is too short to spend endless hours on something you do not love. Do not be afraid to go out on a limb and bend the rules a little bit; be aware that just because someone is an adult does not mean that they always know what is best for you. Trust yourself.

Lastly, just like you cannot expect your parents to change their ways when you move away, do not assume that your friends will grow out of some of their more childish ways when you get to college. By the time I first went home in late October, I had already grown up a lot and learned to fix things about my personality that did not help me function in the real world. For example, when I was younger, I thought the best way to solve a conflict with someone was to scream and say exactly what I was thinking, and then continue to yell it out. I have since realized that speaking so rash and impulsively not only hurts people's feelings, but it can also cause more problems than you started out with. Unfortunately, some things about my friends from home that used to hurt my feelings have not changed at all. When I was at home, I felt myself left out of things and unappreciated by my group of best friends just like I had in high school. I know they love me; I love them too, but there have always been little things that I thought my girlfriends were very careless and inconsiderate about, and they have yet to realize that there can sometimes be error in their ways. It would be nice if everyone developed at the same pace, but since we are all having our own unique experiences, some of us will become adults more quickly than others.

I have learned that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you are down are the ones who help you back on your feet. I have learned that getting really ugly hickies on your neck the night before you are meeting your roommate's parents probably is not the best idea. I have learned to be careful because the more you drink, the better a guy whom you normally would not go for will look to you. College is a whole new world; come in with no expectations and open arms because you will learn more about yourself and your life than you would have ever thought possible.


My First Three Months of College: What I Have Learned

The first three months of my college experience has taught me that when you leave the social atmosphere that once locked your identity in place, you shed unwanted skin and develop the ability to re invent yourself. Since birth, we have been following along a path that our parents carved out for us, not really knowing why we are here or who we are. By high school, we have been stapled into the social spectrum, our status is determined and hard to change, our friends have us down pat, and we as human beings have no more room to grow. Boom! High school ends and college begins. As our high school peers are no longer there to reinforce our previous social status and identity, a sense of security is ultimately lost. No one knows who we are in college. No one knows anything about us. It's almost as if we are completely starting over, which to some, can seem exhausting while to others may feel exhilarating. While we break loose from our "safety box" at home, we finally get to write the chapters in our own book, so to speak. We have the chance to revive ourselves and break free from the label we once had.

College gives us the opportunity to completely turn us around and look at things from a different point of view. We can diminish our standing in the previous social spectrum from high school. Popularity is irrelevant in college. My roommate wasn't popular in high school. I know this because a girl who lives on the same floor told me. The girl who told me is popular. They were two different extremes from the same high school. So of course, you couldn't imagine them spending time together let alone talking. One weekend, some "popular" friends came up for the weekend to visit the previous "popular" girl. My roommate stopped by to say hi. A few minutes later she decided to drink with them. And then it happened. I was half asleep on my bed when she returned with a guy. She was acting a little weird. I got the picture pretty quickly. This guy she brought with her was supposedly "popular" as I was informed earlier. They started smooching and fooling around. That was about it, no big deal, but in the same sense, this was something new. This was something that wouldn't have happened had they still been in high school. All the other visitors were shocked when they found out. How can a nerd get with a jock? One guy said, "Oh my god! This would have NEVER happened in high school!" I remember him saying that over and over again. Why was it such a big deal? In college, the rules no longer apply, unless you allow them to. College sets no guidelines; we are on our own. We are re invented. Forget the labels. It's all bullshit. It would simply make me gag if I saw a million cliques like I did in high school. Get over it. You are now who you want to be. You're free.

Although reinvention is an important part of college, our self-establishment still remains. In addition, our eagerness to fit in is still very present. We want the security we had in high school, but in a different way. It all happens very fast. You make fast friends; you shake a million hands. You are forced to open up those first few weeks. But now, suddenly I'm realizing that if we wanted to reinvent ourselves we should have done it successfully as soon as we got here. I tried my hardest not to talk about myself too much, and clean up my habits that I had in high school, and become a whole new person. But, we are still the same, by nature. Whether we give ourselves a complete make over or not, what was once in us is still in us. Therefore, college is not only about growing into our true selves, it's about accepting and coming to terms with reality.

College is like an audition. You walk onto the campus and understand that no one has a clue about you. It's all up to you. Your parents are no longer at your service, and independence is the name of the game. Everyone is nervous as hell, trying to make a good impression. We no longer have our parents to help us choose the right song for the audition, so to speak. We are forced to make choices, and become our own thinker. Life before college was quite different. We auditioned to our peers at a very young age. We didn't even choose the song, let alone the audition (our life.) It was a huge wake up call for me. It's still hitting me today that I'm on my own with no one to control me.

College is like being born again. When I first got here I wanted to make a good impression. I wanted to make friends. I wanted to look good. I was eager to reinvent myself and ignore all the problems I had over the summer and in school. But what I've been realizing is that no one cares where you stand, that is, unless you let people care. We are so alone those first few moments that we are, in effect, forced to become our own person, relying on the confidence and pride that we didn't know we had begun to establish. And for many, this is very difficult. We have been attached to others, in a sense, since birth. Brian Warner, a music artist, said, "A person is smart, it's people that are stupid." In my experiences thus far, my independence has soared and I know longer depend on group security for my well being and self worth. It's a great feeling.

Transformation in a person's college experience doesn't just happen right away. Being in college doesn't automatically guarantee that you might change and move away from the social cliques in high school that might have left you trapped. In the beginning, I was still thinking like a high school student, trying to fit in, scoping out the people, and finding the ones that would be compatible. I was already prejudging even if I tried not to. It's just habit; everyone does it. Some acquaintances I had made were the so-called nerds and others looked like they were homecoming queens. So, naturally, coming from a sheltered catholic college preparatory, I automatically tried hanging out with a similar type of people I had previously socialized with. One night at dinner, I was eating with three girls from my floor. They weren't exactly diverse individuals who really wanted to get to know me. But, out of habit, I found myself trying to be their friends. Then something hit me. I finally noticed that not one of these girls cared about the real me. No one was even trying to talk to me, or listening to what I had to say. I was just immune to this social behavior I guess. I didn't even notice until now. I was never really that popular, but of course I wanted to fit in. I was crying inside. It was a painful repeat of high school, and I felt that familiar fear of trying to be someone I simply was not. I was once again, trying to catch up with them as they walked and laughed, while they hardly noticed I existed. I thought to myself, "why?" Wanting attention is a nature that is imbued in our childhood as well as in society altogether. But why did I want attention from these people? What was the point of putting on a show all the time? Why do I care so much? If I acted myself wouldn't it be so much easier? Haven't I realized it's not worth it? These people I'm trying to be friends don't give a shit about me. And at that moment, I called it quits. I'm not paying for college to be in high school again. Can you say "sorority"? Well, that's another can of worms I won't open. Later that evening, I was reading "Chicken Soup For The College Soul" and came across a quote which read, "Great minds discuss ideas...average minds discuss events...shallow minds discuss people...which are you?" I was inspired, realizing that these people were in a way, "stunting my growth." I had to trust myself and move on.

Achieving greater depth within us during the college experience partly relies on the growing of others. It is a give and take nature, and we must allow other individuals freedom from being judged in order to better ourselves. When we give others room to realize their own beauty and ability to change, we in turn allow ourselves to do the same. Today, I went to lunch in the cafeteria by myself. As I was serving myself some salad I noticed a familiar face sitting at a table across from the food bar. Ugh. It was K-. This was one of those girls that merely broke out a smile to me when we passed each other in the halls of our old high school. We were acquaintances and occasionally would go to our limits in conversation which was the good old 'how are you...good, how are you' crap. I knew her since kindergarten, but that fact didn't bring us any closer. I was already pre judging her, and she was probably pre judging me, or was she? I thought, hey, I might as well just initiate the conversation and go over there and sit down. I wasn't sure what she was thinking; probably the same things I was. We were grueling over the fact that we now had to put on a show and pretend we were both doing great and pretend we liked each other. So we started on the small talk, but then something happened. I noticed she was actually listening to me and looking at me in a more real way. I wasn't expecting this at all. We began to talk about things that really mattered in life, things that were out of the "superficial realm". It was enjoyable. And I was sorry I had prejudged her, thinking she was exactly the same when she was anything but. We completely connected. What we thought would be a quick 5 minutes turned into a well spent hour and a half. I opened up to her and we talked about how high school was so difficult socially and how much freedom we have now that our friends aren't they're to restrict us anymore. I then realized that I wasn't the only person that was seeking mental and emotional growth. And it was when I finally opened up to K- that she returned the favor.

I can't say that everything will be better in college. I can't guarantee that college won't be a repeat of high school. But it's what you make of it that counts. Just socializing in my halls these past couple months I'm beginning to see social cliques forming and less friendliness as time progresses, but it's just what happens. It's life. I can't fight it anymore. I'm just going to make what I have the best that I can and look deeper in order to allow myself to grow. Like I said, YOU write the chapters in your book. I sweat the small stuff way too much in high school, and it's just not worth it. Of course you'll find people that refuse to change and migrate to people with identical personalities. It's inevitable. But high school did not permanently label you. It just challenged you to recognize that label and make choices. College will teach you how to think. In the first three months, you are forced to change your whole lifestyle. You might be attached to your old friends from high school. The absence of them in your new life will only strengthen you. If we are stuck to one way of thinking and one type of friends, then what is point of life? We can't keep on judging people and close our minds because of fear. College will give you the chance to re invent yourself but at the same time, realize yourself.


College: The First Three Months

As I followed my parents up to college on move-in day, I really thought I was prepared to handle the whole new life I knew was just two short hours away. Even as they helped me move all of my stuff into my small brick room, I felt responsible and as though I was ready to say goodbye. All of that changed when they left my room to return home and I realized I wasn't going with them. I cried, which surprised me, because I didn't think I would be sad to see them go; however, a wave of panic overtook me and I wish I had known at the time that this turmoil was normal.

After three months, I have come to the conclusion that there is no way to prepare yourself for the change that college brings. Once left all alone in your own new room, first you are overtaken with emptiness and fear. This eventually changes into a new found sense of freedom, then to a sense of responsibility. After given a chance to adjust to this total different life, you're bound to discover things about yourself that you never knew existed and come to terms with this new life you will eventually learn to love.

Right after my parents left, I became extremely freaked out. To this day I don't really know why, but as I sat in my room too upset to wander around the halls and make friends, I thought I was the only one in this position. So I basically wallowed in my own self pity for a while and decided that college was not the place for me. The added embarrassment that I thought I was the only freshman who was this upset did not ease my pain. Eventually, I came to my senses and realized that if I made some friends this whole experience might be a lot easier. So I went down the hall and knocked on the door of a friendly girl I had met the day before. She took a second to get to the door, but when she did, it was obvious she was just as upset as I was. So we cried together about all of our insecurities about our new lives. I know any high school senior that is reading this will think to themselves "That's not gonna happen to me....I'm ready to move out," but that's what I thought too. It hits you like a ton of bricks and it's something you really can't prepare for.

This bad feeling doesn't just go away quick, either. It takes a little while to get comfortable and stop thinking seriously about dropping out. I thought I had picked the wrong college, the wrong major, the wrong way of life. It probably took me about two to three weeks after being here to finally realize that I liked it. To all you high school seniors out there, one piece of advice I can give you is to wait it out and don't expect to make your best friends the first few days of being here. My best friend, Lisa, and I didn't hang out until the third week of being here, but once I found her, it made my whole experience a lot easier. The good thing about college is that there's someone for everyone. It doesn't matter what you're into, there's always going to be at least one other person who's into the same thing.

While I began to transition from hating my life here to loving it, I was overcome with a huge sense of freedom. I wasn't under my parents' rule anymore and I wanted to go wild. This is what the typical college student does; however, I was extremely stupid about it. The first weekend I was here, my boyfriend and two of our friends came up to visit. I didn't care about anything in the world except for having those familiar faces there with me. I knew my parents weren't there to tell me when to be home or what I could or couldn't do, so I went crazy. I got in trouble when they were there for having alcohol in my room. I didn't really think it would be a big deal, until I went to my meeting and was told that my housing license had been revoked but held in abeyance. Basically, I was in a lot of trouble but I didn't really worry about it, which isn't typical for me. I went on with my crazy college life and the third weekend I was here, I proceeded to drink with Lisa at a frat party and got so wasted that I had to call a sister from my sorority to come pick us up and take us back home. Lisa and I were feeling a bit sick so we made a pit stop in the restroom where our R.A. came in and asked us if we were okay. We wandered out of our stalls and stumbled back to our rooms not thinking we would get into trouble. Later that night, we saw another example of crazy college students going wild when some random guy wandered into Lisa's room and threw up all over her floor. I suppose it was good to know that we weren't the only ones making fools out of ourselves; however, this wild sense of freedom was quickly ripped away when I found a note on my door a few mornings later saying I had been written up....again. I panicked and didn't know what to do, and apparently there was really nothing I could do since I tried everything but still found myself getting kicked out of the dorms after three weeks of being here. I never thought that when I sadly said goodbye to my parents that first weekend that the next time they would be up to visit would be to help me move all of my stuff back out of my room in disappointment. I know now that it is normal to feel a sense of freedom when you move out, but you have to use responsibility with it in order to stay out of trouble.

My sense of responsibility kicked in the second I found that note on my door. I knew I had to get my act together, and quick. I actually stayed home for two weekends in a row and did absolutely nothing. I worked on homework and tried to focus on the important thing: school. But then I realized that although school was the reason I was here, it wasn't the most important thing in my life. I wanted to be happy. That was all that really mattered in the long run. So I went on with my life while trying to take care of all of my hearings and meetings and appeals with the judicial system. I moved out and into my new apartment, which I absolutely love. Instead of dwelling on the obvious fact that I had failed horribly, I tried to concentrate on the positive aspects of having my new place. I also knew that with this new place, there was even less supervision and it would have been extremely easy to get sucked into a bad lifestyle. I steered clear and got my act together and used my previous experience as an example for how I didn't want to turn out.

I could have regressed into the party girl I was at the beginning of the year or I could have gotten down on myself for making stupid mistakes, but instead I came to terms with what had happened and knew I had to move on. I forgot about it all and once I had overcome the stress of moving out and disappointing my parents, I looked around and realized I really loved it here. Those first few weeks I never thought I would actually fit in and be comfortable here, but now I just want everyone to come visit so they can see what a great life I have right now. I have found new people to hang out with and I'm in the process of dating, something that I wasn't expecting when I arrived. But the unexpected break up with my boyfriend after being here only a few months really put things into perspective. I always thought my happiness was partly at home, with my family, friends, and ex-boyfriend. But now I know that my happiness is here, at Cal Poly, along with the rest of my life and my new friends and new possible boys to learn to like. I went from always thinking of myself as a failure to now knowing that I can succeed and make life happen for myself instead of always relying on others to help me. And sometimes I think back to high school, when everything was just so easy. I thought the transition to college would be a breeze, and that once I was here my life would just be parties and fun. Although that is still part of the reason I love it here so much, I wish I could let everyone back in high school know that it's not that easy. It takes a lot of getting used to, but in the end it's the best experience of your life. There's really nothing that can prepare you for going off to college, so just know that once you're here and crying all alone in your dorm room, you're really not alone. We all know how you feel.


Welcome to College

Sure I came into college to get a degree in art, and become a wealthy graphic designer, but the truth is I want to have a good time. College is supposed to be one of the best times of my life; living with hot girls, going to parties, no curfew, no nagging parents, the responsibility of my life is entirely in my hands. Coming to Cal Poly meant leaving my home in Portland, Oregon. This meant moving into a new environment, where rainy days are rare, and the beach is only a twenty minute drive. This can be very distracting to me, since from living in Portland, you learn to worship the sunny days with outdoor activities, and do homework on the rainy days, and my love for the beach only adds to the distractions from my school work. Over my first three months at Cal Poly I have experimented with my new freedom, and have some really great stories. From some of my experiences and others experiences, there has been anomalies, and a paradigm shift has occurred in the perspective I have on college life. The discoveries that I have made has to do with partying too much and the results it has on my homework. The stupidity and destructiveness , of becoming too belligerent, and the fact that parties are not the best place to meet your next girlfriend. Also I have learned how involvement in school athletic clubs are not just a party hook-up, but is a great way to meet people and stay in shape; and how time management helps me stay on task, and meet my goals.

Over the time I have been at Cal Poly I have experienced the parties, the drinking and the pressure that come with it. In high school, I was a one of the party guys, so I carried that trait over to the college scene. When I say, party guys, I mean I was one of the nice guys who liked to hangout and drink on weekends with friends. In college I found my roommate and new buddies all were the same, they liked to drink, hangout and go to parties on the weekends. It was like high school, we were always looking for the next party. If there was a night that I did not go out, and friends did, I would feel as though I missed out on something, or they would come back and tell me I should have been there. I would neglect my homework because I was excessive about partying and I would tell myself I could do it the next night or get by with not studying for the test at all. I came to this cross road, almost every weekend, study or party.

Choosing the party, I began seeing the results this decision had my grades. I was getting a high "D" in my government class, a class that I thought I could trick the teacher into thinking I read and studied the material. With only my final left to raise my grade, I am in a world of help. In my art and English, both very time consuming courses, I would wait until the last night, get entirely stressed out, and pull an all-nighter, just trying to get something to turn in the next day. After about three all-nighters I came to realize that those parties are all the same and not worth the stress that they put me through. After coming to this realization I was put to the test. All of my dorm buddies were going camping at the beach. It was going to be a huge drink fest with tons of people. I was torn between going, and getting belligerently drunk, or staying and finishing my art project and getting harassed by my buddies for not being there. To keep my options open, I put up some money for food, alcohol, ect. and told them I would meet them there later that night. I ended up not going out that night and finished my art project, stress free. The next day my friends told me how fun it was but they surprisingly respected the fact that I stayed in and finished my homework. Missing a party no longer became an issue to me anymore and I began doing better in my classes.

There is the party scene and there is the consumption of alcohol, both of which have gotten me and many of my friends in trouble. I have talked about how parties are not as important as your studies, but I have failed to caution the use of alcohol in dorms and over drinking. The dorms at Cal Poly are extremely packed, with a long list of people waiting for someone to get kicked out for violating some sort of dorm rule. It is scary how easy it is to get kicked out and I feel lucky that I have not been caught violating the rules. Some of my friends have not been as lucky as I have been and it has been due to the use of alcohol. Being under the influence or being in possession of alcohol is restricted in the dorms and you will be immediately kicked out with no money refund.

In the first three months at college I have seen two of my friends get kicked out of the dorms and have heard of many others. Within the first week of school my friend K- invited her boyfriend and friends, from a different school, to hang out in her room. She knew they had alcohol but thought that by closing her door the RA's (the supervisors of the floor) would not catch her. K-'s friends began drinking, but soon stopped when they heard a knock on the door. Her RA heard clanking of bottles and smelled the suspicious odor of beer. The RA walked into the room and caught K-e with the alcohol. There was only a six pack of beer and only one had been opened. K- was written up for having alcohol and was given a week to find a new place to live. The rules of the dorm are no joke. One strike your out. K- did not even drink the alcohol but she still had to pay the price. She ended up finding housing in Mustang Village, an apartment complex off campus, and her parents made her sell her car to pay for the extra housing bill. Ever since K-'s move, I have only seen her maybe two or three times. Another friend of mine, A-, was kicked out of the dorms for coming back belligerently drunk. It was the first time he had ever experimented with alcohol and he was throwing up all over his room. Someone alerted the RA of what was going on and an ambulance was called to take him to a hospital to get detoxicated. It was a tough lesson for A-. He was the classic "mama's boy," someone you would least suspect to get kicked out of the dorms. It can happen to anyone.

I have found that drinking starts to become a normal thing in college, and I drink more now then ever before. Occasionally my friends and I will drink and go out dancing on week days. It is not that I have a drinking problem but it just makes things a little more fun. This is my old paradigm before my horrid experience at the Grad (a dance club). The story begins with me and fourteen other hot girls. The ratio was great. I thought it was going to be a good night. First we headed over to this girls apartment to booze before the dance. The girls were in a rush to get there so we had about twenty minutes to drink and all we had was hard alcohol. Forgetting that hard alcohol takes a little while to kick in, I just kept downing shots, maybe seven double shots. I wanted to make sure I was a little drunk before going dancing. A little drunk is not the word to describe me. As soon as we were on the dance floor, the alcohol hit me like a wall. I was out. The next thing I know the security guard is kicking me out of the club and threatening to call the cops on me. Luckily, one of the girls decided she wanted to leave and found me sitting in the rain, all cut up from drunkenly falling down, before the cops arrived. She got a taxi with me and we headed back to the dorms. I do not remember the rest of the night after that but people have filled me in on the details.

After returning back to the dorm she helped me into bed. The night was still young, 12:00 AM, and I was going to bed. Later on that night I had to pee really bad and did something incredibly stupid. There were a couple of guys in my room just hanging out at the time, unsure of what exactly I was doing . I staggered over to my desk and just started peeing all over my desk, soaking my class notes, my G4 laptop computer, and my new CD rewriter. At the time I thought it was hilarious. My roommate was surprisingly cool about the whole thing, though he got a little nervous to go to sleep when I told him I was going to pee on him next. The next day waking up in my bed was the scariest thing ever. I had no recollection of the night at all. There was dried blood on my sheets. My arms and back were all cut up, and I destroyed one of my favorite shirts. I felt so bad when I heard one of my girlfriends had to leave the club to take me home. I was even more angry that I ruined a night that could have been great. Not to mention destroying my brand new CD rewriter, that I am going to try and return. As I walked out of my room, down the hall to the bathroom, everyone would look at me and burst out laughing. The story of my night had become the gossip of the dorm.

That night was an anomaly for me. It scared me that I could go through that entire evening and not even know what I had done. I felt lucky that I was not caught by the RA's that night and I decided that I would cool it on the alcohol for awhile. The next night I did not go out and drink, but instead got a group of guys from my dorm and went bowling and played foosball and pool. Then later that night I was the get away driver for my friends that wanted to teepee some guy's house. I actually had a lot of fun that night and it gave me something positive to share and remember with other friends. My involvement in club sports has had such a positive effect on my college experience that I would recommend everyone to get involved. Having come from out of state, and knowing hardly anyone, I found that this was a great way to meet people with similar interests. I joined the men's soccer team, the triathlon team and the wheelmen's cycling team. By joining the teams I feel as though I am really a part of something, and it gives me time to take my mind off the stresses of life. Not only does it help me mentally but physically I am in the best shape of my life. The effects that I have seen amongst some of my friends that have not taken advantage of the club sports that Cal Poly has to offer is, a bit of weight gain, being slightly depressed and homesick. Staying involved has kept me busy enough to keep my mind off homesickness, and body in peak condition.

I found that time management is important in college, to balance my time with sports, homework and friends, without getting burnt out. To keep myself on schedule with all of my activities, I tape them on my wall so I can refer to them whenever I need to. When I go to class I write down assignments and due dates in a student planner. Planning out my weeks helps me be more productive with my day because I know what I have to accomplish. I wish I was as efficient in the beginning of the year as I am now because I am playing catch-up in all of my classes.

While getting involved, and planning my daily schedule has been helpful in my experience, I also have made the mistake of becoming too involved and taking on more then I could handle, which can burn you out also. I found myself missing a lot of my soccer games for homework, and have basically quit the wheelmen's club for the triathlon team. I recommend joining clubs you will enjoy and excel at but do not spread yourself to thin or it takes the enjoyment out of the experience, and becomes more of a nuisance. I hope that my experiences and mistakes can be a learning experience not just for me but for others. I only have been at Cal Poly for three months but I can already tell that this is going to be some of the best times of my life. Good luck to future freshmen.



Change of Scenery

My college experience has not been utterly enlightening. Now don't get me wrong, I have learned a lot at Cal Poly. My knowledge grows every day from in and out of the classroom. However, neither myself nor my lifestyle has really changed. I have the same beliefs, fears, strengths, weaknesses and habits that I did at home. The setting is certainly different; everything and everyone is new to me. But that was to be expected. In fact, my life at Cal Poly is pretty much just how I pictured it.

I remember the day my mom told me what college was. It was on the way to school, I believe in the first grade. I wanted to know how long I had to go to school. My mom told me that first came elementary school, then high school, then if I wanted I could go to a place called college for as long as I chose. I was shocked at this concept. I asked my mother, why would anyone go to school for longer than they have to? I had no intention to do so. However, the notion did intrigue me in a way. I would get to make this decision for myself. This was the first time I started to grasp the concept of responsibility. If this choice was all up to me, I would have to really think about it. I wanted to make the right decision.

From that day on I have always associated college with responsibility, a place where you make choices for yourself and live your life the way you want to. And that's what college is. College and one's college experience is what he makes of it. If I want to study, I study. If I want to sleep, I sleep. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. I can choose what classes I take, what people to hang out with, even live with. College life is one in which you are responsible for all your own decisions, to make the right decisions.

I know that to some people all this freedom is foreign, even a little shocking. My parents were always very fair when it came to administering freedom. I never really had to struggle with my parents for independence. By the time I was 18 I could basically do whatever I wanted. So, when the summer before college rolled around I was practically living a college lifestyle. I went out wherever and whenever I wanted. I think this definitely prepared me for the freedom I was about to face in college.

I had a sense of what my independence was going to be like, but I could only imagine what dorm life was going to be like. I figured that there was a one in a million chance that me and my roommate would end up best friends. I also assumed that it was going to be a very social place, and an easy environment to get to know people. I was right about both things. My roommate and I get along and actually have quite a bit in common; but I know that after she moves out we won't keep in touch. I was actually kind of cheated out of the roommate experience. My roommate actually came to Cal Poly with an off campus boyfriend and a set of high school friends. She basically moved in with her boyfriend the second day here, and only goes out with old friends.

The dorms, as I predicted, are a great place for getting to know people. Most of my good friends at Cal Poly are ones that I met in my hall. And I love being able to have so many neighbors as friends that I can just go visit whenever I want. The general social aspect of college is also pretty much what I expected. I knew that I would be really nervous and in a rush to make friends at first. In high school I made as many friends as I could as fast as I could, but this only led to a lot of group switching. I didn't even find a group of friends that I really liked until senior year. I had a hard time finding people that I could relate to for the first couple of months, but now I think that I have established some really good friendships and am excited about making more.

As well as making new friends I have also enjoyed meeting new people at social events. I looked forward to attending a lot of wild parties in college. After visiting Chico and Santa Barbara, I thought most colleges partied hard every night of the week. But Cal Poly, I learned, is not a party school. For the first couple of weeks I did go to quite a bit of parties. However, that scene died down to mostly just Thursday through Friday events. Those are the only days I really intended to party anyway.

It was important to me that I be social in college but it was also very important that I do well academically. I had, since childhood, pictured college classes as ridiculously hard and time consuming. However, I wasn't too intimidated after hearing how my brother was doing in college (well) and after hearing that I should only take three classes my first quarter. So, I kind of expected the first few months to be manageable. The difficulty of my classes are actually quite comparable to senior year in high school. It has been pretty easy balancing class with work and a social life.

Another aspect of my life that called for management was my romantic entanglements coming into college. I had never-ever- believed in long distance relationships. The concept was laughable; and the fact that it even existed bothered me. Up until August 21st I had stuck to my resolution that I would enter college independent and unattached. This is the day I allowed myself to be S--' s girlfriend. I was so smitten with this boy that I just didn't think. I still was quite sure that we were going to break up when I came to college, but for some reason I just never stopped calling him my boyfriend. So, I kind of surprised myself with that one. I was actually never tempted to cheat on him as long as we were together. We did recently break up, but I know that long distance had nothing to do with it. I had felt from early on that we weren't going to make it, probably because I cared too much. So, in a sense I expected this break up in college.

Along with saying goodbye to those I knew best, I also knew that I would be meeting many different kinds of people that would teach me a lot. The first thing I noticed about Cal Poly is that it is almost all middle class Caucasians. I was no longer a minority! This was exciting for me. But even though I looked like everyone else, I learned that I was still very different from a lot of these people. What stands out in my mind the most is the condemnation of hella by every inhabitant of Southern California. I hadn't realized that it was quite so hated. I always get excited when I meet someone from the Bay Area now. That minor quality just seems to give us so much in common.

I knew that I would miss the comfort of home and having people around who all grew up in the same environment as me. However, I didn't know that it would be as hard as it was at first. I really missed my old friends the first couple of months. Every once in a while I would just get really depressed about them being so far away, wishing that I could just call them up and hang out. I never knew how much I would look forward to visiting home. I think that South San Francisco will always be my comfort zone.

Almost as much as I miss my friends, I miss my car! I knew that it would be hard to say goodbye to my good old Nissan Stanza. I have to deal with the exact same problems I did during Sophomore and Junior year, when I didn't have a car. I wouldn't get to go all of the places that I wanted or invite people to go out with me as much. Having a car gave me more of a sense of freedom than anything else I had ever experienced. So, in this sense, going away to college stripped me of a substantial freedom.

I realized going into college that I would have to adjust to loses such as these, as well as having to adjust to a lot of other things. But I am satisfied with the amount of adjustment that I've been able to handle. I feel very comfortable here. I didn't think I would start calling Cal Poly home quite so soon. I started doing this unconsciously a few weeks ago. I now call both the Bay Area and San Luis Obispo home. I don't know if San Luis will ever be as comfortable as South City, but I definitely like it here.

I knew that Cal Poly was a good school for me, and it met almost every expectation of mine. Even though there were no big surprises in coming to Cal Poly, like I said, I have still learned a lot since I have been here. I continue to grow as a person just as I would anywhere else. I am just glad that I chose Cal Poly in which to do so.



From WOW to Now

"Goodbye Bryan, we love you. And remember you're here to learn, not just to have fun!" I reflexively said goodbye, hardly concentrating on this momentous point in my life. There was just too much awaiting in the campus behind me. I was in Cal Poly's parking lot, full of minivans and SUV's, packed with the typical college necessities, being released from my parents eighteen year grasp, as well as letting go of them myself. After waving them off with a bit of a lump in my throat, I quickly turned my back and walked to my dorm with somewhat of a spring in my step. Overwhelming feelings of nervous anticipation are present as I repeat every bit of advice I received, from grandparents to college survival handbooks, in my head. As I walked down the hall of Trinity towards my new home, I glanced in each open room and finally swung open my door with the sudden epiphany that I had finally arrived at college.

From that moment to the present, over three months later, I have evolved not to a new person, but clearly different. College has given me room to grow and confidence to let me be myself. The incredible amount of freedom college has granted me has given me the power to shape myself to better serve my inner needs, which translates to a more self-satisfying life and overall happiness. Most changes are for the better, but with this sudden acquisition of freedom and no figure of authority directly responsible for new students, negative decisions are bound to occur. College is full of these difficult decisions. They are not necessarily right or wrong, but choices that can lead down the wrong path if they are not properly balanced. Overall, college is an academic and social lifestyle, in which one determines the direction for his or her own life.

People have a tendency to create snap judgments at first sight. This is why nearly all college students will attempt to create a strong first impression through looks and attitude. I was no exception to this rule. Wearing nice, matching clothes and neatly combing my gelled hair every morning became my routine for the first week or two, as I was meeting new people daily. Now my morning routine couldn't be more different. I typically get out of bed fifteen or twenty minutes before class, and throw on some clothes in need of a washing and a hat to cover my uncombed hair. Now that I have established a group of friends, clothes and looks become much more secondary after who I really am. This causes one to grow beyond superficial looks. However, by saying this, I am not promoting a lack of self care. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to obsessing over vanity, or the other extreme, what some would call disrespect for yourself.

High school creates an atmosphere that does not promote growing and becoming an individual. The style of learning is more of a mold and strict; authoritarian rules force one to conform. In high school if a student is late to one class, detention will be assigned and parents will be notified, whereas the college student's tardiness could cause a loss of important class lecture time. This difference forces the college student to either be responsible on their own will or else their education will suffer. This more flexible system (and it goes for many more aspects than just tardiness), causes the college student to grow and prosper on his or her own will, while it forces the high school student to conform.

Academically, college gives students the opportunity to shape and develop their thinking through taking the subject matter of their own choice. My first quarter classes here at Cal Poly concentrated on the liberal arts, with writing, political science and psychology classes. All of which are subjects that I wish to further develop myself in, as opposed to math and science related fields. Simply paging through the catalog with the courses offered and course descriptions, planning my academic future interests me more than high school ever did.

Difficult choices are constantly being presented in college social and academic contexts. Being punctual to classes is an example of an academic decision, while substance usage is more of a personal and social decision (as contradictory as it sounds). Substances, primarily alcohol and occasionally marijuana have a strong presence in college social life. I have seen many of my friends, as well as me personally, have that last drink that's one too many, which sends them crashing to the ground or toilet bowl. One night at a party, it appeared that one of my friends was having the best time in his life. With a beer in each hand, dancing, talking and the biggest smile on his face, J- soon left the party we were at for another. After several hours had passed, we left the party to return back to the dorms. With the majority of our group stumbling back intoxicated, we saw a person lying prone on the outside benches of our dorm throwing up. Sure enough, it was J-, hardly capable of putting a sentence together to tell us what happened. Another person and I kept J- company for a while, during which he expelled all that was in him. The next night all of us were back at it, only this time (even after believing I had learned a lesson from J-'s mistakes), I switched places with him. I don't know why we do it. Waking up after half the day is over feeling like crap hardly makes any night worth it. Yet excessive college drinking continues in the general student population around the country as well as it will likely continue within my group of friends.

These nights are evidence of the large amount of freedom students have with the absence of authority. College students have virtually no one looking over them to give curfews and make sure they don't drink. The only figure of authority in the dorms are the Resident Advisers (RA's), who rarely do anything more than making sure no one is in a state in need of medical attention. A small number of students take advantage of this freedom to the fullest and suffer academically and can even lose direction in their lives as a result. While working on this paper, I was interrupted at one point to watch the drunk antics of a neighbor. Apparently, this person had drank a fairly large amount of hard alcohol in the middle of a weekday afternoon in his room. Later, we learned that this person was between classes and had a speech to give in a couple of hours. Was this a wise choice T- made? And what were the reasons for doing such a thing? Dealing with stress is likely, but I believe the real reason is the appeal of the short intoxication and no authority to stop T-. In essence, he proved to himself the power and freedom he has in his life. This is definitely not the first time I have witnessed this action and it will not be the last. The atmosphere and freedom of college brings out this behavior and the need to prove self-worth. During the first weeks of college, I was no exception to this action. Drinking just because I could, factored into my choice, whether it was conscious or not. Perhaps this relates to the causes of excessive drinking in more ways than we know.

I do not want to give the impression that this is what the first three months of college consisted of: solely excessive drinking, tardiness, missing classes and other negative behaviors. The fact is that these limited actions, along with everything positive, have helped me develop and in essence, create myself. After all, one of the best ways to learn is through mistakes. Overall, the first three months of college have been a series of experiences, including good times as well as challenges. In the end, these experiences helped me adjust to my new life and continue my progression and development towards achieving a strong education and creating myself.



An All-Encompassing Experience

Unlike most people in their first year of college, my life has not drastically changed since I graduated and moved away from home. I was a very self-sufficient person in high school, and well prepared for the independence that was soon to come in the years ahead. Looking back on the past three months, I am thankful that college has enabled me to discover new aspects of myself, clarify my persona, and test my strength of character.

Personally, life in college has been everything I expected it to be. Since my parents treated me as an adult while I was in high school, they most definitely trust and respect my judgment now that I am in college. Because my mother and father instilled their rule of: trust until given reason not to, I have a strong sense of self and confidence now that I am on my own. Each of my parents gave me the opportunity to be independent by giving me their unconditional love and support in every phase of my life. With that life-long trait they showed me, I am now able to give, communicate and be a stable person for my friends to depend on. One thing that I must say about college is that you find out just how much influence your parents have on you and how much you are like them, whether or not you want to be. Although, I have had differing views from time to time with my Mom and Dad, I have learned to acknowledge and trust their wisdom, because they have lived through the college years, just as I am now. For instance, as I was driving up to college, my dad said to me, "Anna, this is now your mantra. Repeat after me, 'I am a poor college student.'" As much as I did not believe I would feel like a poor college student, the more he made me say it, and during these three months I have started to believe it. I now know that coupons, not diamonds, are a college girl's best friend.

Not only do I know what values I hold close, I know that respecting other people is a must when you are living one on one with someone in a tiny little cinder block room. No matter what impression you may have of your roommate to be, your perception of that person will soon change, and you must be patient and adaptable. Of course at first you need to be cordial to one another as in any new situation, but after a few weeks your true colors shine through. This is when your patience is tested and you learn that there are other people in the world besides you. For example, you must learn to just roll over to the other side when your roommate's alarm goes off at seven in the morning and you do not have a class until twelve. Also, getting used to sleeping with some kind of light on in the room, since he or she has decided to wait until the last minute to finish that Statistics homework. Although, you might get agitated with your roommate once in awhile (or every time the alarm goes off), you learn to cope with each and every idiosyncrasy that person has and, hopefully, begin to like that individual. Furthermore, a certain amount of trust is instilled in your roommate, because you cannot always be there to watch over your belongings. One must take a big step in one's life to feel comfortable enough and consciously willing to put oneself through this changing time in life. The thing about college is, you do not only learn about different subjects in class, but you learn how to interact with other people, and mostly how to understand and deal with your own feelings.

When you first get to college you feel alone, but are constantly surrounded by others. You cannot even run into your own room to 'get away from it all.' This in turn, almost forces you to meet new faces, thus giving you the opportunity to meet people with very diverse backgrounds. On a college campus especially, there are endless amounts of activities to get involved in. For the most part, during these activities is where you find out what you, personally, enjoy doing and meet other people who enjoy doing the same thing. For example, I find most of my enjoyment in playing sports; therefore I joined a co-ed volleyball and soccer intramural team. The interaction I had during both seasons helped me to develop a network of friends, which I have something in common with. These people may not be as close to me as my friends from high school, but they sure made me feel like I was a part of something, and having those strong connections, helped me get through the first three months of college happily.

The theme of college could not be better illustrated than with the phrase, "Make new friends, but keep the old." We all have left someone behind when leaving for college. Whether it is our family, a best friend, or a pet, our comfort zones were somewhat left in the dust. Because I understand that my family will always be there for me, I was able to leave them with less apprehension as to what the future holds. However, leaving some of my friends behind proved to be different. As any college freshman would be, I was unsure if my friends at home would still be the same people when I got back. Fortunately, the select few that I really wanted to keep in touch with did stay my friends and this is because I was able to email and call frequently. Nevertheless, it takes effort staying in touch with your old friends. As I know, it can be rather challenging even to write a few sentences to people when there are several other interesting events happening on campus, as well as looming homework. The fact is, if you have the desire to keep your best friend, you are going to; it just takes effort. And those other flops are going to get replaced by new people in college that may end up knowing and loving you better anyhow.

In college, we all get challenged and the more we find ourselves in imperfect situations, the better we learn to adapt and become flexible. To be adaptable is a life long trait that serves to be useful in the long run as well as in day-to-day situations. One particular time I was not prepared for my life to be disrupted was when I was the designated driver for a night out with my friends. It ended up that I had a full car, with all completely drunk passengers, and it just so happened that two of the four decided to throw up all over everyone else. Moreover, I had to help this girl that I had just met a few hours earlier, stand up and stay standing while she took a shower and vomited every ten minutes. Furthermore, the night lingered on, and after I got all of the passengers tucked in bed, it was time for me to sleep. Well, as the night waned, I finally got to bed at 5:30am, sleeping on the floor with my jacket as a pillow and a single sheet on the carpet. I rationalized this whole event by thinking and hoping my friends would have done the same for me if I were in their situation. I quickly learned to deal with the consequences and go with the flow, so to speak.

As any college student knows, sleep is a privilege and although I thought I was not getting much sleep in high school, I soon got to college and now I know the true meaning of sleep deprivation. No matter how uncomfortable my dorm bed may have been in the beginning, it is now one of my favorite aspects of college. Sometimes deciding to walk down and get ice cream or a burrito at two in the AM seems better than doing homework. No one really knows what compels us to go on these outrageous ventures, but somehow the idea of complete freedom gets to our heads and we end up paying for it in the end. However, taking chances and doing what I desire is why I attended college in the first place, and I am sure that is why my parents did also.

I guess the only way to really know what college life is like it to experience its failures and ventures yourself. For me, I am thankful that my parents gave me enough support and love to enable me to have the confidence to take on college with a positive attitude. The qualities my parents taught me have really shown through as to who I am, and the impression I wish to convey to all of th




Advice is something that wise old men give, I'm just a college student. While eighteen years old is hardly an age of wisdom, the only advise I can give is that college is the next step in your life, one in which you need the support of your family and friends to reach; but once you make that step you need to be able to walk on your own. This is a lot easier said then done. You are leaving your best friends, your home, and the people that you have depended on for the past eighteen years of your life. You must now make decisions for yourself and no one else. It is your decision on who to like, who to love and what to do with your life.

With the lights off we danced in a disorganized circle, singing our hearts out to Dave Matthews Band as if we didn't have a care in the world. These are my friends. They witnessed my first love and first heartbreak. They danced beside me at U2, watched movies with me when I had my wisdom teeth taken out, hugged me when I felt sad, and most of all were my world for four years. I had to leave that and go to a place where as far as I knew people like my friends didn't exist. Slowly, I am learning otherwise. I am rooming with someone I knew from home, and even though we did attend the same high school, we are learning as much about each other as if we just met. Luckily, she has become one of my closest friends. Though it seems hopeless to find people like the ones you left at home, it is when you think that you never will that you find them. I have been lucky enough to meet and become friends with an awesome group of guys that no matter how sad you are will always make you smile. I have also been lucky to be living on a floor with a group of amazing girls. We already have a weekly tradition, and my favorite of the group, Jessie, seems to have had an almost identical childhood to mine. I am excited about all of the people I have met because when I think about how my friends in high school affected me, I can hardly wait to see what effect my new friends will have. I think when I leave this school, I will leave with the attitude that was put best by Lennon and McCartney; "All these places had their moments, with lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living, in my life I've loved them all." While I thought my friends were going to be difficult to leave, my family was an essential item I thought I wouldn't be able to live without.

While some kids see their parents as burdens, I see mine as role models and people who I would be lucky to mirror as an adult. I am as close to my parents as I am my best friends and while some people my age may find this odd, I find it a necessity of life. My sister, brother and I are all extremely close and I miss them on a daily basis. Without the support of my family I would not be where I am and I knew it would be the hardest thing to get used to when I left for school. While my family tried not to think about saying goodbye, it nevertheless nagged at us the entire weekend that we moved me into the dorms. We tried to stay strong and say goodbye without tears, but as soon as I hugged my mom we let go. Seeing my dad cry was especially hard because he is always the strong type. The phone bill has been big ever since and I talk to my family daily. I guess you could call me dependent, call me what you want, but I feel that my phone call every day is my one connection to the outside world beyond San Luis Obispo. I love knowing that I have my own world here, my own utopia. I also enjoy knowing that I have my family only a phone call away. While I thought leaving my family and friends would be hard, I knew that leaving Joe would be downright torture.

I think relationships in college are always an issue, especially when you go away to college with one. When I met Joe, I never realized that he would become not only my boyfriend, but also my best friend. While we hear incessantly how lucky we are to have each other, there is also this negative undertone seen especially from adults that we are too young to be in a relationship that could be holding us back. While this could hamper our relationship, this negativity only makes us happier for we can see how much we have overcome and how much there is for us in the future. In high school relationships seem so trivial, so immature. Yet from the beginning, Joe and I knew that our relationship was neither of those. If anything, it is the complete opposite. We knew that by going away to college together it could only complicate things and that we ran the risk of breaking up. This has been in the back of my mind since I first set foot on this campus, and though it has given me some cause for concern, being able to look back on how we have grown only makes me happier about our relationship. I knew that in order for us to work, we would have to change in this place together, and not only welcome individual change but welcome the changes made in our relationship. We have made our own friends here, and welcome them together. I am exhausted from hearing how bad it is for people who are young to waste their time only on one person. I hate the stereotype that every person in college needs to drink as much as possible and experience as many people as possible before they leave. I do believe that the point of college is finally doing things that are good for yourself, and making choices to make yourself happy instead of everyone around you. Right now Joe is what makes me happy and who knows where we will be in the future. He has been there for me in extremely difficult times in my life, and I love knowing that I have someone who I can trust and rely on. I have grown up knowing always to follow your heart, and I have been successful this far. Luckily I followed my heart into the arms of a wonderful, sincere and amazing person. Not only are the people you surround yourself with in college important, the environment itself also has a direct effect on your success in college.

In truth, this is the real definition of college: Shower shoes, dirty clothes, meningitis, and cafeteria food. While I welcome the freedom that living in the dorms allows me, I can't help but miss the little things of home. A mall ten minutes away and my favorite sandwich shop would be nice. Though I do miss things from home, San Luis Obispo amazed me from the first moment I saw it. Its quaintness and subtle beauty is the perfect setting for a college town. I am used to living in a big city where horns and rude remarks are part of the daily life. Here I get to breathe clean air, am surrounded by people who are my age, and enjoy the luxury of not having to endure rush hour. As for the dorms, I think the worst thing I have had to come to terms with is living here and being sick. The first time I was really sick I began to panic and for people that know me this is completely unlike my true character. I take pride in being independent, yet the first time I felt sick I resorted to crying on the phone to my mommy. Yes, I cried. I took for granted the cool palm and reassuring voice of my mom and dad when I lived at home and sitting alone in my dorm room only made me realize how alone I truly am. I learned something from that experience and now I laugh in the face of a cold. Actually, I am really on the phone asking Dr. Mom to diagnose me. I know that it will get better, and besides this moment of weakness I actually love my independence and welcomed the day I could truly be on my own.

Three months in college has felt like the blink of an eye. I remember the day when I first moved into this tiny dorm room and now it has become my home. I no longer feel weird standing in line amongst the upper classmen, or lost trying to find the right class. It is true that you do not change that much in three months, but there is no doubt that by the time you leave Cal Poly you will be a different person. Good luck.



A New Life, A New You

George Bernard Shaw once said, "Life isn't about finding yourself, Life is about creating yourself." Sitting in my eleven by thirteen foot room, all I can think of is getting this paper turned in, finishing my finals, and going home for Christmas break. I'm looking forward to seeing my family, friends, and eating all of my mom's great food. I cannot help but think of how much I will miss the freedom and the friends that I have made here in college. I have learned so much in the three months that I have been going to Cal Poly and it is this improvement that has made my life so fulfilling.

In high school I was on a quest to find myself and figure out who I was. Life was a pursuit of meaning and where I fit into it all. Now I know that those questions will forever be unrequited. There is no certain answer to any of those issues. The pursuit to "find yourself" is pointless; times change, you change. The solution to my inner turmoil was college. Here I found that life is like a lump of clay, it can be sculpted into whatever you want it to be. If you want to be an artist, an accountant, or an astronomer go ahead. Party every night or study every weekend, it's your choice. College is a test on your passion and if it is strong enough, it can take you far and make you very well off. In high school most people have someone who encourages success, like parents, teachers, coaches, and counselors. However, now in college you must motivate yourself to do your homework and take care of everything else that needs to be done. No one else decides your curfew, your bedtime, or whether or not you will clean your room. If your grades drop or your roommate gets mad, there is no one else to blame but yourself. This freedom is what college is all about. Even though it may not be as tough as "the real world," it is a step in that direction.

The reason college students get more freedom is because of their new living arrangements. Now these kids live with and are supervised by other young adults. Living in the dorms has been one of the greatest parts of college life. As a daughter of very strict parents, I can tell you that life is more fun when you are in charge of it. It will be difficult for me to go home this break; I am sure that there will be at least one argument over my newfound freedom. As for dorms, I would recommend the experience. Yes, there are a few drawbacks to living with a bunch of other students: early risers, loud girls, puke in the hall, and rude neighbors. Otherwise I would say that living in the dorms has been largely enjoyable. The great thing about the dorms is that there are so many different kinds of people. It is this variety that provides a basis for change. After meeting everyone and learning about their backgrounds I have found that I have changed. I listened to new music, movies, and heard everyone's opinions, some of which I accepted as my own. For instance, when I was introduced to my roommate's collection of movies. Some of these movies I would never have chosen to see on my own, like "Scar Face", "Friday", and "American History X." Each story gave some insight into the mind of a gangster, a mafia ring, and the world of skinheads. From this, I have learned to be much more open-minded about the entertainment I choose to watch. Being flexible in my taste and unbiased in nature, I was able to learn a great deal about the many distinctive people that live here.

My new friends have also played a great role in shifting my views. The first friend that I made here was Amy, my roommate. I had known her in high school but we were only acquaintances. We were in the same art class our senior year and it just so happened that we both got accepted to Cal Poly. After talking about going to college, we decided that it would probably be smart if we requested each other as roommates so that we didn't get stuck with any creepy people. Now I know that this was a great idea since I have seen some very incompatible roommates in our dorm that are unable to even talk to each other. Besides being a good roommate, Amy also added to my college experience by expanding my horizons. She encouraged me to open my self up. I was very quiet and reserved in high school but with Amy I feel comfortable enough to expose my true personality. When I spend time with her I am able to converse easily and I have developed into a more outgoing person. With this new persona, I find it easier to make friends. Without her I would probably have been happy just hanging out with the same kind of friends that I had back home. Now I have friends that listen to Michael Jackson, come from small mid-western towns, and say "hella." These new friends are mostly guys, and in high school the majority of my friends were girls. So overall I would say that my new friends are extremely different from my friends in high school. Even the personalities of these people vary. The college group is a mixture of so many distinctive types of people; the diversity is amazing. However, in high school I grew up with all of my buddies. We went to the same schools and lived in the same area. All of us liked the same kinds of music and did similar things. This change has encouraged me to connect with a variety of individuals. I am so thankful that I could be lucky enough to be exposed to such a wide array of people and now I know that's what college is all about.

When I say that I have changed my outlook because of the different people I have started hanging out with, I am not advocating following the crowd. I am simply stating that I agreed with some of the new opinions that I was learning about. You shouldn't compromise your personality and style just to fit in; you should only transform your beliefs if you actually have faith in them. This is important to remember when you are put in a position where you want to fit in so badly that you might betray yourself. I have seen people who have done this, but it doesn't take them very long to figure out that they can't pretend to be who they are not. College is a time to figure out who you want to be. If you want to change, then go ahead, but don't sacrifice who you are just to fit in.

Some kids have a hard time adjusting to the new freedom that they acquire when they leave high school and come to college. Here you are able to choose whether or not you want to go to class. There are no campus supervisors to give you detention if you ditch. However, this responsibility comes with a great price. If you do not go to class, you may miss an important lecture and these are very critical when it comes time for that test that is fifty percent of your grade. With this responsibility I have learned how to manage my time more efficiently. Instead of hating every minute of school, I value it as a time for me to prepare for the big test. This new schedule has also changed me in that now I feel like school is worth my time. I do not dread going to class. Yes, it is boring some of the time but since I only have two to four classes a day for only four days out of the week, it is not as unpleasant as high school. Also many of my courses require more in depth thinking. As an alternative to doing worksheets and answering basic questions, college courses call for analysis and thought. Almost all of my homework now is writing papers and reading books. These essays most often entail an examination of either myself and the work I have done or a subject and what it means or what it reveals to me. Thanks to this routine, I have been able to investigate and recognize meaning more readily and it has helped me in my thought process.

College has given me a chance to expand my thoughts and has made me look much deeper into everything that I analyze, including people and their actions. I have changed because of the freedom I've been given since moving into the dorms. I am proud to say that now I am more open, I have a more diverse crowd of friends, and that school is a more enjoyable place.



Let me first start by saying that the experience that you will soon read about cannot truly be expressed by words alone. You will be lucky to understand one tenth of what I am saying. Every day of college feels like a week compared to the rest of my life and to think that I've been here only three months is insane. I have met so many cool people, done so many cool things, and had such great experiences in college that three months ago feels like three years ago. The day I got here, September 15th 2001, seems like a childhood memory. I remember walking into my bare dorm room and seeing my roommate's stuff already sitting on his bed. I remember the golden sunshine streaming in through the windows and looking around my room, thinking, "This is my new home." From the second I walked through my dorm room door, my life changed forever. I no longer lived at home or with my parents. I was no longer a kid. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by everything that I could hardly think. I had a nervous stomach for the first few days and had no appetite. I had to get my books, get my computer up and running, get my Week of Welcome (WOW) bracelet, get my campus express activated, get my meal card, get supplies, and most difficult of all, acquaint myself to the new life that I had been thrown into.

More so than any other period in your life, college is a learning experience. The first two weeks were very hard, I won't lie and tell you it was peaches and cream. I had a great time at WOW week, which was instrumental in my positive college experience. But it was those times when I was alone that felt terrible. Like sitting in front of my computer with nothing to do, or sitting alone in my room wanting to do something, but not knowing what to do. I thought more than once that perhaps I had made the wrong decision in going away to college. I thought that maybe I wasn't ready. I learned very quickly that anything was better than being alone, even if it was something I didn't necessarily want to do. Just being around people made me forget about my loneliness.

Being outgoing and self-confident allowed me to meet two of my best friends here at Cal Poly, Melissa and Lindsay. One night early in the school year, I was about go to a party at one of my WOW friend's apartments, but I had to grab something from my dorm first. As I was walking up the hill to my dorm, I saw two girls walking toward me and heard one of them say, "What are we going to do tonight?" I then asked them if they wanted to come to the party with me. They looked at each other and one of them said something like, "Let's be spontaneous." So they ended up coming with me to the party and that was how I got to know Melissa and Lindsay. We have been the best of friends ever since.

The first time I was actually glad to be at college was a couple nights after I had met Melissa and Lindsay. It was one of those silent, warm, and windy nights when you can hear the trees and grass sway in wind, one of those nights where the air is charged and full of life. Lindsay and I stayed up late that night and talked for three hours. I told her more about myself than I had ever told anyone, even my parents. It was an amazing feeling to feel that close with another human being. Now, Melissa, Lindsay, and I tell each other everything and know we can count on one another. If I hadn't had the courage to ask two girls who were complete strangers to come to a party with me that night, my college experience would not have been nearly as enjoyable. This taught me that courage, more specifically, self-confidence, was extremely important in college. The only way to cure my loneliness and unease was to go out and make friends. I became aware very quickly of a trap that I often fell into during the first few weeks of school. If I was unhappy because I had no good friends, I would lose self-confidence and not initiate a conversation or plan an activity with anyone. This attitude of course, wouldn't allow me to make new friends so that I could cheer up. I learned that my self-confidence and perpetual happiness was the key to having a good college experience.

I didn't party in high school at all and never had one sip of alcohol before college. It's not that I was opposed to it, but it seemed like everyone who did it were all so stupid. I'd hear them brag in school how wasted they had gotten over the weekend, and I'd be thinking, "How is that an accomplishment?" I'd hear of people doing stupid things while drunk and this scared me as well. I also didn't think I was "popular" enough to go to parties. But I told myself that when I went to college I'd keep an open mind and if I wanted to drink, I would. I remember the very first night of college, my roommate invited me to come with him to see a bunch of his hometown friends who also went to Cal Poly. They were all very nice people and decided they wanted to go to a party. I remember standing right in front of the Sierra Madre dorms, knowing I was at a crossroad in my life. Do I go to the party and "compromise" my morals or do I act like I did in high school and go home? I remember being in that state of limbo-like indecisiveness for about 30 seconds, totally and completely torn. I knew the decision I was about to make would impact the rest of my life. I thought back to what I had promised myself on those lonely nights in high school, "In college I am going to be outgoing and have fun, even if it does compromise my morals a little bit." I decided to go with my new friends to the party. As we were walking there I had a nice conversation with a girl and I was starting to think that I made the right decision. For the first time in my life, I experienced the wonderful feeling of walking in the fresh night air with a bunch of friends on the way to a social gathering. It was a great feeling.

I didn't know what to expect at a party since I had never been to one. Would all the guys be drunk and acting stupid and mean? I walked into the party with my group and was warmly greeted. A guy offered me a beer that I politely turned down. The guy didn't seem at all annoyed and was completely fine with me not drinking. This disproved my first theory that I had about parties, that people pressured you to drink. I started talking to a guy, the usual "Where are you from?" and "What's your major?" questions. Somehow the conversation turned to cars and I told him what kind of car I had and that I had done a few modifications to it. Someone else at the party overheard this and suddenly I was talking to two other guys about cars. I ended up becoming good friends with one of the guys. He introduced me to more people that were into cars, and got me into to the whole car scene in San Luis Obispo. Now I hang out with those guys and go racing once every two weeks or so. As the party wore on, it shocked me how everyone, and I mean everyone, was nice. This dispelled my second myth about parties, that most of the people were jerks. I learned a lot about parties that night and as we walked home that night, I had the kind of feeling you get when you've truly experienced life to the fullest. In retrospect, I am extremely glad that I went to that party. I am becoming better and better friends with all my car buddies and going to street races with them that I enjoy very much. It scares me to know that if I had not gone to that party, my college experience would have been not nearly as fun.

I went to four more parties and did not drink. Then one night a couple people from my dorm went to this guy's apartment for a small party. I decided it was my time to drink, not because of social or peer pressure, but because I was ready and I wanted to. I was around my friends, people I trusted, and I wanted to have a good time. As my first sip of the Screwdriver slid down my throat, I remember how bad it tasted. A couple other people and me sat down at a table and played a drinking game. It was very fun being with people I genuinely enjoyed and playing a game. I met a few new people that night and danced and sang along with a couple of songs. I had a blast and from that point on, I fell in love with parties. I learned a lot that night about drinking, what different drinks were, how they tasted, and how alcohol affected me. Drinking is very fun, don't get me wrong, but the best part of partying to me is being out, being amongst people, and meeting people. When I'm at a party, I feel like I'm living.

Another thing I have learned a lot about, and am still learning about, are relationships with girls. I had friends who were girls in high school, but never pursued relationships with any of them. As I started to pursue romantic relationships with girls in college, I began to learn a lot about relationships. I have no shame in saying that before college, I was fairly ignorant about girls and relationships. In many ways, I still am, but I am learning. I currently don't have a girlfriend in college, but I have met and interacted with a lot of girls and probably could have a girlfriend if I wanted, but I haven't found the right fit yet. Nonetheless, every time I interact with girls, I learn more and more about them, yet I know I am only at the tip of the iceberg.

Another obstacle that I faced in college was learning to live in the dorms and learning to live with another person. My parents, sister, and relatives all predicted that I would have a very tough time learning to do this. Understandably so, I was and still am very picky about everything. I like everything to be just so, and get very angry when people touch my stuff. I also loved to take baths, which is not possible in the dorms. But I always knew adjusting to living with another person would be easy for me as long as I had my own personal space, even if it was just half of a dorm room. Like I predicted, I have had a very easy time living with someone else. My roommate gets annoyed when I type while he's trying to sleep, and stuff he does annoys me, but we get along just fine. I like my roommate even though we're not the best of friends and have many different preferences. We like different music, have different hobbies, go to sleep at different times, and have different friends, but since we are both friendly people, we get along. I will always respect him for including me in his plans for the first couple of weeks.

All my friends from home think that I've changed a lot in college. I agree with that, but I always knew the outgoing, fun-loving person that I am now was always inside of me, just dormant in the mostly ignorant and superficial world of high school. I feel like college has let me expose who I truly am. College and high school are so different, you might as well be comparing highlighters and armadillos. In high school, it's cool to be dumb, whereas in college being smart is a respected quality. In high school, everyone wants to be the same and to be "cool," but in college being different is cool. The people I enjoy hanging out with the most are different and quirky, and most importantly, are themselves. There is nothing more sickening to me than watching someone try to be somebody that they're not. In high school, it felt like I was missing out on life, like I was watching life pass me by. Everyone else had great stories, and I wanted to have my own stories too. In college, I have my own stories, I feel like I am living life to the absolute fullest, getting everything out of life that I can. Robin Williams said it best in Dead Poets Society, "Eating the fruits of life and letting the juices run down your chin." Let me tell you, that is one of the best feelings in the whole world, knowing you're taking advantage of the wonderful gift of life.

My advice to high school seniors is simply this: go away to college. I wasn't really sure I wanted go away to college when I was a senior, but I knew that it would be good for me and I basically forced myself to go. Most people, including me, have an innate sense when they know they should do something for the betterment of themselves. If you end up going to college, I have more advice for you. The first is to be self-confident and happy, all the time. Walk up to everyone and introduce yourself and shake hands, I must have shaken hands with a million people in the first two weeks. Invite people you don't know to go out and do stuff. Get to know everyone you can and give the impression that you're a nice, amiable person. Know that pretty much everyone else at college is friendly too, and looking for friends, just like you are. Have courage, be confident and you will go far. Be open to new things, but don't do anything that makes you feel too uncomfortable. Be totally, utterly, and completely yourself, whoever that may be. Live by the saying, "I am who I am and that's who I am." Don't be afraid to do weird or stupid things. Just enjoy and love the person that you are. In many ways, college is like infancy, you learn so much each and every day that it's truly incredible. My mom always said that college was the best four years of her life. I can't speak for four years, but I can tell you without any shade of doubt that the first three months of college have been the best three months of my life.



My First Three Months of College

Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the self-actualization theory, a theory that closely resembles my first three months of college. These first three months are filled with experiences that have changed my life forever. The emotions that surround my experiences are strong, which makes it difficult to express myself in words. Between friendships, relationships, dorm life, and classes, college life is a chain of challenges waiting to be overcome. According to Maslow, before self-actualization can begin, our biological needs, safety needs, needs for belongingness, and esteem needs must be met. He taught us that to really enjoy our lives, we have to go after what we want and achieve everything of which we're capable.

During the first week of school I was most concerned with eating, sleeping, and making sure I had other necessary survival elements. Known as biological needs, I made sure that I knew where to eat, how many meals I was allotted per week, and how I would divide my meals up throughout the week. Dorms rooms and roommates are definitely something that takes a while to get used to. After moving away from home, just waking up in an unfamiliar bed is a difficult adjustment. Going to sleep and waking up at different times is also something that my roommate and I had to deal with, which basically came down to just respecting each other. It also took a while for my body to adjust to all the changes in weather, but after these basic needs were satisfied, safety needs became an issue.

As Maslow states, people are usually unaware of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure. On Friday and Saturday nights, safety and security needs frequently come into question. The party atmosphere was something that I was expecting, but not to the extent to which it exists. Partying in college is avoidable, but it is a main social artery. And there have been some scary alcohol-related instances that have occurred in the last three months. Sober people (whether it is just the driver or more) are really important to have to make sure that things do not get out of hand. Between vomiting, fighting, and other unexpected outcomes, safety can definitely be in jeopardy if you do not plan ahead.

Beyond safety needs, the need for love, affection, and belongingness begin to tug at the consciousness. In the first few weeks of the quarter friendships are the easiest to make. Unfortunately, many of them are shallow and begin to dissipate after other friends are made. One of the biggest concerns with going to a foreign place is making friends that you can be comfortable around. Cal Poly has the Week of Welcome, a week that introduces new students to the campus and all that it offers. Before even meeting the people in our dorms, we were put into random groups of students. Many initial friendships were formed out of these groups but didn't last very long. Friendships then began to sprout from the dorm atmosphere.

For the first month or so, all the people down our hall were very close. There were around fifteen of us that were all on the same boat of wanting to make friends. And we did everything together: eat, party, hang out, etc. We got along because we tried hard to get along. But soon the superficiality began to wear off and people's true personalities began to surface. There are still a handful of us that continue to hang out together, but slowly, our hall began to split off into cliques very reminiscent of high school. And that was around the time that I decided to look into a fraternity.

I must say that there is a prominent stereotype of fraternities that exists from all over the campus. I do admit that I was just as guilty of stereotyping "frat boys." So why did I rush? I went out to Rush Week (a week where you get to meet all the fraternities and its members) with an open mind to find out a little more of what it is all about. I am now pledging Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and having the best time of my life. I was very active in high school and discovered that a fraternity was a great way to stay involved and meet a lot of people. I found a place that I felt I belonged to which really helped me adjust to college life. Most fraternity guys, in fact, do not fall into that stereotypical façade of being dense assholes. I can personally attest that I have not undergone any type of drastic change because of any sort of brainwashing; I have not become any different of a person than I was before. The only change that I have experienced is a sense of isolation from my friends in the dorms. There is this constant silent pressure that I feel to either "choose one or the other." It is a difficult thing to deal with, one that I continue to struggle with today. Maslow states that a person will strive to have relations with people, for a place in the group or family.

After relationships have been built with others, it is often that self-esteem begins to be evaluated. There was definitely a difficulty in the first few weeks of school in trying to deal with my own self-esteem. At first I was afraid to be "myself," not knowing how people would act or react to my personality. If anything, college would be the most opportune time to make a change in who you are. You are put in a new atmosphere with people who have no expectations or stigmas about you. But I have always been proud and confident of who I am. I became comfortable with the people around me, and became comfortable with being myself around those people. There is a self-evaluation that occurs during this period, which is usually when you discover the most about yourself.

With all the changes that occur throughout the first three months of college, it is really important to make sure that you keep something consistent to stabilize your self-esteem. For me, that consistency is found in lifting weights. I have been weight lifting for two years and I made sure that I continued that trend in college. Every day that I walk into the gym, I set a goal, and am met with a challenge. Things change continually, but no matter how bad or good of a day I have, I can always count on my workouts to be productive and fulfilling. Working out plays a big role in my own self-esteem, and is a huge reason that I am excited to wake up every morning. Through the hard work and trial and error in the gym, as well as the diligence and sacrifice outside of it, you develop more than just muscle itself. As your body responds to efforts over weeks, months, and years, you begin to realize the power you have over your own being. Your confidence grows, and you understand how striving for positive goals can shape your life. You acquire toughness, knowing you can take your body to its physical limits and beyond, and not only survive, but thrive.

It is because of all the experiences I have encountered in my first three months of college that I have a deep desire to continue to pursue the best that I am capable of. The knowledge that I have gained from inside the classroom is helpful in explaining everything that I have learned outside of it. Before coming to college I always felt like there was something missing in my life, but I could never figure out exactly what it was. I now understand that I was missing out on all the challenges that life throws out. In college, you learn how to tackle and overcome those challenges. Every thing in high school is watered down. There is not any raw truth that teachers can really share with the students; college is all about the raw truth. Be prepared to learn more about yourself than you ever thought was possible. The self-actualization need is the tip of Maslow's hierarchy, and a tip that I feel confident enough to say that I have reached. As difficult as it is to discover who you are and what you want to do with your life, college is the map that will help you sketch out the directions to your goals. "What humans can be," Maslow said, "they must be. They must be true to their own nature. This need we may call self-actualization." Welcome to my first three months of college.



Long Distance Relationships

Sitting on my boyfriend's couch, surrounded by the comfort of the familiar living room, I became overwhelmed by a feeling of happiness and security as Blake wrapped his arms around me. I was momentarily content, until my thoughts flashed back to reality and once again my stomach twirled with anxiety about the following day. I was anxious about the life that awaited me in San Luis Obispo, but I was sad to have to say goodbye to all of my friends and family. Sensing my nervousness, Blake excitedly diverted my attention by talking about a big surprise. "Before I give it to you," he said, "You have to give me a big hug and kiss." Turning around on his lap, I looked him straight in the eyes, flung my arms around his shoulders and eagerly pressed my lips against his. Engaging in the kiss, I was surprised when my mouth unexpectedly met with something hard and cold. I pulled my lips away and reached into my mouth to delightfully discover a beautiful silver ring with a delicate diamond placed in the center. Passionately looking me in the eyes, Blake smiled and said, "I just thought that maybe this would help you think of me when you are sitting in class."

I always planned on being single when I went away to college, but that was before I got together with my boyfriend Blake. Blake was different than any guy I had ever met. We hit it off right away, and I really felt like I could talk to him about anything. After spending an entire summer goofing off and having a blast, there was no turning back. We both decided that we would try to manage a long distance relationship while I attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and he stayed at home in Santa Cruz. To my surprise it didn't take very long to realize that committing to a long distance relationship while away at college, no matter how special the person is, is often more difficult than it is fun. As I recently discovered, long distance relationships commonly work to students' disadvantage; the demanding social restrictions and serious commitment interferes with the students' natural tendency to grow and transform into the type of person that they want to be.

Everybody warned me that a long distance relationship wouldn't work. An older friend from work shared her stories. She told me that when she was a freshman, about 90% of the girls that came to school with a boyfriend broke up with them within the first month. I was determined that this wouldn't happen to us, that our love would withstand all difficulties. My sister's best friend listened to my entire story and decided that we would probably make it until the "turkey drop," (a new concept to me) when everyone comes home from college for Thanksgiving and breaks up with boyfriends or girlfriends. I listened openly to all comments and advice, but didn't pay full attention to what I felt was information and advice that wouldn't apply to our relationship.

The first week of school was filled with all kinds of group activities that were centered on meeting new people. Everyday was full of laughter, fun, and jokes, but at the end of the day it was back to the dorms where life still seemed kind of awkward. Everyone in our hall was friendly, but bonds hadn't been built or friendships established; most of the students stayed hidden within the safety of their dorm rooms. Around this time, I couldn't have been more relieved to hear the phone ring at the end of the day, knowing that I would be comforted by the familiar sound of Blake's voice. With my family hours away, and my friends at different colleges, going through similar situations, I was relieved to have someone to talk to, someone who knew who I was beyond my name and major. Blake and I talked daily and our conversations seemed to fill the lonely gap in my life. It felt good to know that there was someone out there, beyond my family, who cared about me and was missing my presence in his life. At this point I hadn't met very many friends and I missed Blake tremendously.

Week two brought more changes with school starting, but slowly I became more adjusted to college life. I met my first real Cal Poly friend, and we started hanging out and entertaining ourselves by going on adventurous bike rides and working out at the gym. I still found myself lonely at times, and I still looked forward to the daily phone calls from Blake. We talked each night about random things, and he updated me on the current news from back home. I spent my free time e-mailing him and sending him cards, and he spent his free time planning surprise visits. This special visit happened when I came home from a party one night to find my dorm room completely covered in red and white roses. There were so many, that they were everywhere- covering my bed, in my closet, on my desk, in the garbage, on my shelves...everywhere. I was confused and didn't know what to think, but I was quick to notice the twinkle in my roommate's eyes. Curiously I walked out of our room and, to my surprise, found Blake standing in the hall. "Happy Anniversary," he said, and I jumped into his arms, really excited to see him.

As the weeks progressed, however, I strangely started feeling tied down by our relationship. I realized I was holding myself back from socializing in an attempt to keep our relationship on track. I wasn't happy staying at home anymore, so that I could talk to Blake at night, and I wasn't happy secluding myself from all the guys on campus because I was involved in another relationship. I wanted to be able to branch out and meet new people, but I felt committed to put the necessary effort into our relationship in order to make it work. As I watched all the girls in our dorm building meet new guys and hang out with new girlfriends, it bothered me that I didn't feel fully able to do that too. It wasn't that I wanted to move on or look for someone else, but I wanted the freedom that I didn't have because of my commitment.

Letting go of all feelings of restraint, I became very close with a group of seven girls who lived in my dorm building, as I let myself enjoy the freedom that I had been missing. Soon every night was filled with fun outings, lots of parties, or girl talks, and movies, as all eight of us crammed into our small 11 by 13 foot dorm room. I accidentally stopped talking to Blake every night because I was frequently out or just didn't have time. Because of this, the gap between us seemed to widen, and it seemed like we didn't have as much to say to each other. When we talked he would tell me about his day and I would tell him about mine, and then we would hang up and go back to our separate lives. Our relationship wasn't fun anymore.

I felt bad because I knew that the distance that had formed between Blake and I was a result of the choices I had made. Blake continued to put effort into keeping our relationship alive, but as he saw my response to his effort slowly dwindle; his efforts began to dwindle as well. It made me sad to realize that things had changed because I really loved Blake and knew that if I were still at home, our relationship would be going strong. But I wasn't at home, and the circumstances had changed. I came to realize that it wasn't that I didn't love him, but that the timing and situation were off. I needed this time in my life to be independent and make decisions based on my own needs. I wanted to be free to change if that was where the choices I made led me. But I knew that I wouldn't be able to do this, and remain the same person that my boyfriend at home was in love with.

I broke up with Blake on my first visit home, and it was probably one of the hardest things that I had ever done in my life. I could see the discomfort and disappointment in his eyes, and it killed me to realize that he didn't really understand why I was breaking it off. This was because Blake was at home, his life was pretty much the same, so he couldn't relate to or fully understand why I needed this time in my life to figure things out on my own and be independent. The hardest part was that "distance" was the only real reason for this breakup. It wasn't a fight, or another person; it was the battle against distance and change. I don't think anyone could fully understand unless they have been through this exact situation. To let go of someone you still love because you are so far apart is really difficult.

I was lucky however, because I had friends who were going through similar situations with their boyfriends from home; together, we were able to comfort each other as we dealt with the situation at hand. I realize that when dealing with long distance relationships it is different for everyone because there is no right or wrong answer. It is a choice that must be made on each set of individual circumstances. The decision is hard no matter what the outcome, and it causes a lot of confusion and speculation about the future. But in my case I felt that the distance had guided us apart. I had my new life, Blake had his, and we had a hard time finding that point in the middle where we could relate to each other and be happy. The answer although difficult to convey was apparent, we needed some time apart.



The college experience is nothing like that of high school, and as a freshman, most of my time and energy during these first three months has been spent trying to accommodate myself with my new surroundings. Being a new incoming student means being prepared for new changes. It means being open minded and ready for anything. I didn't know what to expect when it came to friends, social aspects, or living situations, but I arrived with some determination and a positive attitude, and that got me started on the right track. Today, my closest friends live on my floor just a few doors down the hall from me. We do just about everything together and always plan fun activities for the coming weekend. My friends and I have gone to the beach, to several parties, shopping, etc., but probably the most exciting thing yet has been our road trip to LA.

I had been hoping to find a ride to LA for a few weeks. M-, a high school friend of mine, and I, wanted to go to the Claremont Colleges, located inland of LA, to see a few old friends of ours from high school. One of them goes to Pitzer, another goes to Scripps, and one other friend of ours goes to Claremont McKenna. All of these colleges are within walking distance from one another. The only problem was, neither M- nor I had our car at school with us. So in order for us to go, we needed to either find someone already planning on going to LA, or someone that would loan their car to us for the weekend. Our first attempt, sadly, was a failure, however, about two weeks later M- and I succeeded with the help from my closest college companions Alicia and Nathan.

Both Alicia and Nate also had friends down south that they hoped to soon visit. With this in mind, Nathan made the famous call that helped begin our first road trip ever. That Friday afternoon, Alicia, Nathan, M-, and I set off for LA in a tiny, red Chevy S10. Each one of us was fully aware that this trip would be a long one, especially when we saw the truck waiting for us in the school parking lot, but we all crammed in and took off, as thrilled as ever. Leaving for LA on a Friday afternoon was probably not the best idea, considering the earlier traffic. The trip took us about five and a half hours with one stop in Santa Barbara. M- sat in the back and slept for most of the time, while Nate drove, and Alicia and I squeezed in next to him in the front seat. When we reached our first destination, Nate and Alicia dropped M- and I off at Scripps College for the night, and then continued driving until they got to Fullerton, where they had planned on staying. My friend from high school, Darci, joined M- and I as we walked from Scripps over to Claremont McKenna. There, we were reunited with our other friends Annie and Ben.

When Darci, M-, and I entered Annie's dorm room, Annie was seated at her desk and Ben was on the futon. M-'s reaction brought back several of my high school memories. It is said that some people never change, and I found this to be true. M- made a complete fool of himself in front of our friends, because that has always been his way of getting attention. Most of my friends responded to his childish behavior by simply playing along with it. I, on the other hand, sat in disbelief. I felt I had escaped all of that by going away to college. And then it hit me: I had outgrown my friends. I have always been a little on the shy, quiet side, primarily because I have never wanted, or much less felt I needed to get more attention from my friends than I already had. M-, however, played the class clown throughout high school, and because of this everyone new who he was. Going to college changed all of this for both of us, just in different ways. No one knew me, and I loved the fact that I could start all over again if I wanted to. I could meet all new people and build new friendships. Over these past three months, I have become friends with dozens of new people. I have come to realize that if they don't like me for who I am, it's all right, because someone else will. I no longer have to abide to that generalization that I was forced to carry in high school. I began to miss my new best friends, Alicia, Nate, and everyone else back at the dorms, while M- rejoiced at what seemed to be our high school reunion.

After visiting Annie at Claremont McKenna, Ben, Darci, M-, and I decided to go over to Ben's dorm at Pitzer. The Claremont Colleges are located within about five minutes walking distance from one another. The students live in suites rather than rooms, so they have a roommate and then neighbors to share a bathroom with. The bathroom separates the two rooms. I had never stayed in dorms such as these, yet that wasn't the only thing differential to the residential life at Cal Poly. When we got to Ben's room, people had already begun to party. The doors were left open as an invitation to anyone, and the music played loud and clear. I walked in and noticed bottles of alcohol lined up along the dresser. Suddenly someone offered me a can of Coors Light, and I realized that the alcohol policy guidelines at the Claremont Colleges were nothing like that of Cal Poly's. Everyone partied in the dorms at Pitzer, because there wasn't a need to go out. Anything they would perhaps want was right there in the dorms. With this much freedom and flexibility, the Claremont Colleges had some amazing social aspects, which is important when it comes to fulfilling the college experience. At Cal Poly, however, that kind of fun is not as easily attainable. Many guidelines go along with the residential life, such as alcohol being prohibited in or around the halls. Because of this, the parties providing alcohol are always off campus, and therefore, it takes a little more effort to go out on the weekends. I have found over the past three months, that not having a car can get discouraging at times. Finding the best parties can be hard enough, but then getting someone to drive you there can be even more of a challenge. On the other hand, it never hurts to just hang around in the dorms; after all, it seems like the place to be during the week.

Nathan and Alicia came and picked up M- and I the next day. The four of us squeezed back into the eminent Chevy S10 and began our return to San Louis Obispo. On our way through LA, we decided to stop and check out the new City Walk at Universal Studios. We planned on eating dinner there, considering how desperate we were for some good food. In college, it isn't too often that one gets a sufficient meal. I have learned to appreciate home cooked food more than ever. The college cafeteria food has been a huge adjustment for me. I try to stick to the safest selection, such as sandwiches at lunch, and then pasta or salad at dinner. My best advice would be to be prepared for anything. A large percentage of the cafeteria food is disgusting to even look at, but there are several options out there, and the goal is to find the most enjoyable. Over time, I have managed to adjust to the food I am served, although it still gets to be discouraging after a while. Getting food out has become more of a joyous celebration than I have ever imagined it could be.

The four of us returned to the campus late that night, and college was really beginning to feel like my home away from home. We said goodbye to the Chevy S10 that drove us to LA, and thanked the girl who loaned it to us for the weekend. It felt good to be back in our dorms once again. I was happy to see my close friends from down the hall and even my roommate. I really enjoyed visiting my friends from high school down at the Claremont Colleges, and I still think the social aspects couldn't have been any better, but I would never think of going there for school instead of superb Cal Poly. I carefully chose where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life, and I am enjoying just about every minute of it. San Louis Obispo is a wonderful location for a college campus. The beaches are only twenty minutes away, and the weather couldn't be better. It is a small town right in the middle of San Francisco and San Diego, making road trips a popular event for those three or four day weekends. The campus is not small, and the buildings are rather spread out, but getting acquainted with the shortcuts can be a big help in cutting back on some of those long walks. I would recommend bringing an umbrella to college, however, because I didn't, and it has been raining an awful lot lately. The first three months of college have been a really good time and I am living up every moment of it. Still, nothing has topped the road trip to LA, but maybe next weekend something better will come up.



Joe Is In College Now

For as long as I have been alive there has been a feeling that everything I did was to reach one goal, college. I had run my life accordingly to this one goal by ensuring that when the time came I would have all that I needed to get there. Since first grade I knew I was going to college but it never occurred to me what would happen when I got there. It was always so far away that it never really mattered, kind of like death; it never really matters till you're almost there (probably why old people go to church more than young people). In a way college is my death, the death of an old life and the start of a new one. The past three months have enabled me to see the changes from my past life to this odd afterlife where my home, parents, and friends are hundreds of miles away.

I have never been away from Riverside for more than a month and a half, yet here at Cal Poly it's almost been three. An amazing thought, which left me stunned when it first came to mind but when I think about it there really wasn't much I had to get used to. The environment change was actually quite a positive experience for me, clean air and green hills are much more appealing than the brown skies and brown hills of Riverside. I am now much closer to the ocean and living in an area that I used to visit in my youth. In fact my favorite spot on the entire earth is in San Simeon, its just a little cove on the beach that is very peaceful and dear to me. I plan to ask someone to marry me at that spot so it is quite an improvement from my old location. One of the more difficult changes that I've had to over come is the chilly weather. The one thing that I can't stand is to be cold. This was never a problem in Riverside where a typical winter day would have my friends and I wearing shorts and tee shirts. The only way to beat the cold is to stay in my new home, lovely cell one-hundred-and-eight at Trinity Hall. Dorm life...what an experience it is. Many young people gathered together in one place where they will live in close proximity. To top that all off you have to live with and next to complete strangers. I am one of the lucky few that cheated the new roommate ritual and roomed with a long time friend. I was a little hesitant to room with him because we had had some differences in the past but so far with a little work we've been able to cooperate. He understands me and that to me is more important than a new roommate experience. There are some difficulties with the other guys on the floor because some of them are slightly annoying and I can tell I'm not going to be seeing them in four years. But there are a few good guys as well, like Mike who is really friendly and has a good sense of humor. Overall I've had an enjoyable experience while living in the dorms, especially the lack of parental guidance.

Parents have never been an issue for me so getting used to them being gone wasn't much of a problem. Actually it was another positive change that I will enjoy getting used to. All my relatives live back east so I don't have really any other ties to make me feel detached; unlike my girlfriend who is having a difficult time with the loss of her family as shown by the difference in our phone bills. I have never been too close to my parents and was not disheartened when my mother left me that fateful day in September, I actually missed Amy's family much more. I do miss my dad more now because we started to bond when I got older and he moved into his bachelor pad. Suffice it to say my family loss has not been a burden on my life and surprisingly neither has my loss of old friends.

My friends were all very close to one another and we hung out almost every day. Then towards the end of high school our group began to splinter off and there wasn't the cohesiveness that had been our strength. Moving away turned out to be a somewhat good thing in that now we are genuinely excited to see each other when we can. Some friends I miss more than others but there are no longer any negative feelings that had persisted for so long. In fact on of the best experiences I've had with my friends occurred about two weeks into the quarter. All of my high school friends were coming back to celebrate a birthday and then after wards I threw a party at my house where only my close friends attended. It was a new experience to be partying with all my old, now college level, friends. I have the Internet so it's not like they are ever too far away and we are always planning some sort of trip.

The old friends are not a problem but the new ones are quite a different story. I have never been a good friend maker that is why I've pretty much had the same friends my whole life (I still hang out with my friend from pre-school). I can honestly say I have forgotten the way to make new friends. I am too used to people who know me and I thus don't have to explain my oddities, they just know I'm strange. Here I can't be myself too much except in my room. The people here are very different from the people I'm used to interacting with and makes it much more difficult for me to even want to make friends; however, like I said before there are a few people that are cool but not many. Amy, my girl friend, has actually been my best method of making new friends because she is very outgoing and has great ability in attracting all sorts of people. I'm already becoming good friends with one of her friends, Jessie, and I know so many more people because of Amy.

Some of the more notable changes that I have experienced have been with the love of my life, Amy Marie Robinson. We have been dating for almost two years and have gone through many difficult times and have always come out more in love than before. She was there when my grandma died and I was there when ever she needed me the most. Our transition to college was probably one of the more difficult challenges in our relationship. I was mainly the one who made the troubles because I was testing the new boundaries of our transplanted relationship. We both learned much those first few weeks and have benefited from those struggles, and now are biggest disputes are over my hair and where to go for our anniversary. She won the anniversary terms but I'm proud to say my hair shall remain free from any scissor-like persecution. That stereotype of couples breaking up by thanksgiving was never a real worry for us because despite what happens we know that we are not your typical couple and that greater things are destined for us. We will go thorough all the new experiences that await us in the future and come out better than before. That is our strength and college is only the beginning of our adult lives together.

All these changes that have been going on in my life have had definite impact on me but not so much as to change my nature but more as a change of habit. I still retain my beliefs and values that are essential to my being, but I have learned new things that I can add to my experience and can better judge my actions and those around me. I do feel older than I did three months ago and am settling quite nicely into my position as a college kid. Most of my expectations have been met and I feel comfortable enough to call San Luis Obispo home. The only advice I could give to a prospective college student is to not expect too much and learn to be flexible. This is the start of a new life; whatever you were in high school, jock, nerd, or prep is dead and now all you have is what you truly are. Use that to make your assimilation of college life much easier and it will benefit you in the end. It will be interesting to see if any of my advice will still hold true three months from now or three years from now, either way it will be the experiences you encounter and how you handle them that matters the most.



Beginning a New Life

Being the oldest child, the first months of college came as quite a shock to me. Without an older sibling as an example to follow, I wasn't able to see what kind of affects the college could have on me. My big questions didn't revolve around school or education, they had to do with what kind of people I would meet or if would I be good friends with my roommate. These questions all got resolved in the first month at this institution. Of course I had been talking to people about their freshmen year but their descriptions all seemed to be so happy, saying that they were having a wonderful time in college. I never got to see, or rather hear, the other side of the rainbow, the ones that had a good time in their first months of college but also had some troubles. My parents did tell me about their stories and I can honestly say that accepted last year's freshmen's opinions with higher regards than my parents. Their stories were of weird roommates and how much fun they had in college and how it was the best time of their lives. I actually assumed, from other people and mostly from living here that San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly would be some of the best years of my life.

The first experience that I had with college life was with my WOW (Week of Welcome) group. At first everybody seemed to be pretty good friends, perhaps the best friends that I had made so far at Cal Poly. But as time went on and I made better friends with people from my dorm and these WOW buddies just became people that I had met, not really friends. However, in that brief amount of time I became good enough friends with the people in my WOW group that I was able to feel much more comfortable at Cal Poly. The introduction of college into my life allowed me with a clean record amongst friends. I could have, theoretically, changed who I was to fit some sort of predetermined mold that might make people like me more. I don't think that I ever took advantage of this new aspect of college life. Some of my friends from high school did act upon this opportunity and they were happier because of it. They were really looking forward to the introduction of college in order to turn their lives into whatever they wanted to be not what people thought of them in high school. College becomes a starting over point, slates are wiped clean and everyone arrives with the same unknown reputation. It was this aspect of college that let me actually find out who I really was. I was able to interact with people under my own terms, with the attitudes that I wanted to portray. I found that I did not put forward any change in my attitude from high school.

Being away from home for the first time is definitely a good experience to have. Even though I did stay in my hometown I'm glad that I didn't stay at home and rather took up residence in the dorms. This gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of new people but still have the comforts found in living in the same town that I have for a long time. It seems to me that when some people move father away from home the newly found independence they obtain might be just a little too much too soon. Some of the freshmen here at Cal Poly and at other schools go crazy when they realize that they are on their own. By crazy I mean that they party all the time and don't place enough attention on their studies. I have met many people that were the typical goody-goodies in High School. They never drank, never smoked marijuana and always did all their homework. Since Cal Poly came into their lives many of these people started to drink heavily and smoke and these people don't know how to deal with the introduction of these new substances into their lives.

There are definite differences between my roommate and me. For instance, he likes to stay up late on the weeknights, and wake up late in the mornings. I on the other hand, would much rather go to bed earlier and wake up early. I am one of the outsiders in college who doesn't value sleeping through the day all that much. My roommate and I are friends; don't get me wrong, we just don't hang out that much outside of seeing each other in the room. At the beginning of the year we hung out together, but once the year progressed and we found our own cliques everything settled down. At home I never had to share a room with anybody, so I was used to the peace and quiet that I had, but now living in the dorms those times are virtually impossible to find. My roommate is a music major and is always playing his guitar or playing some kind of instrumental music over the stereo. Even though my roommate and I might not be the best of friends we are still good enough friends to make my dorm experience a successful one.

Time in the dorms seems to be about five times faster than in real life. At least that's the way I feel through the friends that I have made. Living in the dorms and being surrounded by people all day long and all night makes for close friends in a very short period of time. The first floor guys in Trinity started to get close enough to give each other nicknames after the first party that we went to. It was at this same time that I started to figure out what kind of individual each person was and how they fit in with everybody else. There was one guy that evening who was very into the whole northern California vs. southern California battle. He kept on challenging people in a drinking game called quarters. He lost in that game so many times but kept on wanting to play it so we nicknamed him quarters. Nicknames like his tied the floor together a bit more. Through living in the dorms I have been witness to many different drunk episodes and have had friends in other dorms that have had just as many outrageous episodes. I heard one story about a guy who went to a huge party was having a great time. With beers in both hands he was unstoppable, meeting girls and dancing the night away. But by the time he came back he was so intoxicated that he passed out on the floor at the foot of his bed and in the middle of the night his roommate woke up to the sound of him peeing on the floor next to his bed. Even after the roommate yelled at him to stop the guy couldn't and just kept on peeing. I'm just glad that my roommate isn't like that, and I hope that he can last the year without peeing in the room. Occasions like this, supply the humor that is necessary to bring a floor together. The memories from this incredibly outrageous night will stick in the minds of many people for a very long time.

The most challenging aspect of dorm life is that there is always something to do other than homework. I have always encountered someone who wants to play pool or someone who wants to eat or walk down to get a package. Also, many college students don't own cars in college. Their main mode of transportation off campus is their roommates or friends from the dorms. In my case this doesn't happen because I own a car but I always seem to be the means of transportation for everybody else, whether it means driving to a party or going surfing. The one negative about being the only person with a car and the ability to carry surfboards is that I end up getting pressured to go surfing when I probably should be doing my homework instead. Another downside of being the transportation is that people don't like to chip in for gas money and when asked for gas money they might say yes, but who knows when they will actually hand over the dough.

Unlike cars, everyone has computers. These computers, I have learned, are really meant for only a couple of things at the college level. First and foremost they are meant to converse with friends through the use of an instant messenger. This allows me to keep up with my high school friends but allows me an easy way to get off the computer if there is something better to do with the new friends that I've made in college. Secondly computers are used to get songs off the internet in order to spend less money on the CDs that we could buy in stores. The third usage of a computer is to type essays and do other homework that might or might not be due within the next one or two days. I have found that computers allow me to procrastinate a lot more than I would probably like to. When I'm writing a paper there's always the option of playing a video game or talking to friends. Even though there are these distractions I still find the time to get my work done and put a good, solid effort behind it.

The first three months of college have been both an interesting and enjoyable experience for me. It has been a period full of first experiences and learning an incredible amount about how to live with other people as well as how to handle myself without my parents around. At the beginning of college I found myself asking what would my parents say, but I then realized that I couldn't ask myself that for the rest of my life so I stopped asking that question. For the first time in my life I'm living alone, although not completely. I don't have to worry about what food I'm making or where the get the money to buy the food. The dorms offer a stepping stone to living on one's own. They provide that middle ground between living at home and having to completely fend for oneself, and I for one am very happy that I got the opportunity to use this stepping stone.



Imagine, if you will, a particular place in which the inside walls are just a few feet apart, the nearby walls are extremely far away, and where, at the same time, there are absolutely no walls at all. This mysterious place is filled with thousands of curiously energetic young people but seems to be dead and run-down all the time. Nothing extraordinary is ever unexpected and everything common is always a surprise. Small children and grown adults feel especially out of place, yet everyone in between always does too, in some sort of strange way. Here, there are challenges, tranquility, successes, and, of course, a few failures. The Cal Poly dorms unite a unique group of college freshman in search of best friends, adventures, edible food, mates, and education, using the smallest possible amount of space per resident to incorporate sharing and togetherness into their everyday lives.

Most dormitory rooms here at Cal Poly house two unfamiliar incoming freshmen, in a 13' X 9' living space, located as far as possible from each student's respective early morning class. This inconvenience is not done on purpose; however, it is the direct result of the ignorance of the first year student who, unknowingly, has to walk from the dorms to the business building at 7:00 in the morning. As for the living space, and the fact that Cal Poly spends as much time on the roommate assignments as they do on decorating the rooms, it is extremely difficult to live with a complete stranger for nine whole months, especially if the roommates do no get along. In some rare cases, the two roommates become friends, and even more rare is if they become best friends, as is the case for my roommate and me. The friendship that we have formed over the past three months is essential to succeeding in college, and provides a more relaxed environment while in the dorm room.

Receiving a roommate that is compatible with you is a big obstacle to overcome, but there is still hope if you do not get along. Because the living quarters are so small, it is impossible to walk through the halls every day and not meet someone that interests you. The girls on my floor that I have made friends with over the past three months have also helped me to make it this far. We come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and possess a wide variety of personalities. This diversity is the most interesting aspect of college life. It provides an opportunity to grow with an open mind and respect the needs of others, both of which cannot be taught by any professor, they must be learned by experience.

The bizarre experiences that have occurred in the dorms throughout the last three months have also broadened my view of friendship. In the first week of classes of the Fall quarter, each residence hall has a false fire drill to see how the students will respond. I had witnessed these fire drills throughout the course of one evening and giggled at the sight of the unprepared residents as they stood outside in towels and pajamas. Despite these rather obvious warnings, and the fact that my hall was the only one that had not yet been tested, I decided to take a nice, hot shower. I had just put a great big glob of shampoo in my hair when the fire alarm sounded. Feeling rushed and in a state of shock, I turned off the water and put on a pair of pants and a towel; it was all I could find. I ran outside to find a few of my friends and to join the entire hall on the sidewalk across the street from our building. As I approached them, I could feel their eyes, along with everyone else's, glued to my head. In my panic, I had forgotten to wash the shampoo out of my hair and was still dripping wet. Within minutes of their apparently hilarious discovery, however, I was wrapped in unfamiliar articles of clothing from sympathetic residents. Their generosity not only kept me from catching pneumonia from being out in the cold, it gave me a sense of pride to have been "the only one in the shower when the fire alarm went off." This title stuck with me for a few weeks but was soon replaced by "soup eater" because of my preference to eat canned soup over the campus food.

The Light House and VG Café are the two main food plan cafeterias on the Cal Poly campus. They provide the students with the opportunity to eat a hot, healthy meal and are located not far from most of the dorms. Though the intent is good, the outcome is not always up to par. The food at the Light House, otherwise known as the "Feces" House to some students, has proven several times to provide food that I would never eat, had I not been so hungry at the time. There is a policy at the Light House and VG Café that the servers and cooks do not need to wear hairnets, however, I have witnessed a few incidences that involve food and hair (use your imagination) that might require a change in the policy. If the servers and cooks wore hairnets, they might see me visiting their fine establishment more often. The food is generally good, based on the fact that it is prepared for a mass amount of people, but the thought of having an extra non-edible ingredient in my food kept me from returning for quite a while. In time, the fear has subsided and I now thoroughly check my food before I take the first bite, even at home. My mother, as well as others who serve me home-cooked food, seem to think that this is an insult to his or her cooking, but I remain set in my ways.

My ties to home do not stop with family, however. I have successfully maintained a six-month, long distance relationship with my boyfriend, Manny. Though it has been a challenge and, at times, seemingly impossible to keep this bond over 330 miles, this relationship has forced me to recognize why I am here at Cal Poly. Manny has enabled me to keep my focus on school while still allowing time to visit home every three weeks and talk with him for at least a few minutes every day. These events have required the development of time management skills that I never seemed to possess throughout my high school years. This quality will travel with me throughout the course of my college career and through the rest of my life. Hopefully, in time, Manny and I can move closer together to make visits more frequent and allow more time spent together in general.

The first three months of college here at Cal Poly have been the best in my life so far. The general campus feel and the strong ties to and support from my friends and family back home in San Diego have given me the opportunity of a lifetime. Although the dorm life can be difficult to get accustomed to, the overall experience so far has been positive. Through my roommate, hall mates, and all of the experiences included in these past three months, I can conclude that Cal Poly is a safe, exciting, and educational environment in which to live and grow.


My First Three Months at College

It is 12:45am on December 5th and this paper is due in about 13 hours. Some of those hours I intend to sleep and some I must go to class during. This is my college life. Some may call it procrastination or maybe it was writer's block that has me starting this paper so late. I really have no preference on what you may think as long as my essay gives you an insight on how my first three months of college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have been. Others may tell you that these last months have been life changing for them. For me, I find that my college life here seems only like a four-day high school retreat or possibly a two-week vacation. Maybe it has not hit me yet that I am in college, but here I do not notice much difference than when I was in high school. I have not had any big life changing incidences or realizations. The only things I have learned are that not having a job gives you a lot of free time to think and there are many different types of people out in! ! the world. I guess I could give out a few pointers, but they are about life in general, not just college. This essay will show how I have not changed since I have been here, but hope to have a great experience and evolve as a person as the years roll on.

These past three months have flown by. I feel as though it has been a two-week trip that I have been on. I am used to not seeing my family and this may have an impact on why being away from home is not so devastating to me. This summer I worked for USA, a company that teaches cheer camps to high school squads, and I was constantly on trips away from my family for weeks at a time. This might be the reason I feel that being in college is just like one of those trips. I know that no matter what, I will be seeing my family soon and have plenty of time to spend with them. I almost enjoy being away because when I get to see my family it is that much more meaningful. The time I do get to spend with them is priceless. A week seems to fly by up here. It could be because I am not in school as much each week as I was in high school or the fact that I am constantly occupied. Whatever it is I really feel three months is a very short time to be in college.

Sometimes I feel as though I am still in high school. In a way I think living in the dorms is a step up from high school, but not quite yet college. If you think about it, you still see your friends everyday, you are just much closer to where they live. Instead of driving to their house, you walk down a flight of stairs and knock on the door. You still hear the gossip about different people around you. Where in high school the person may have been known as the theatre freak or the cheerleader, now he or she in known as the theater major or the hussy on the third floor. You still have the shy people who you always walk by but never really talk to and the entertaining girls that are a little louder than the rest. Overall not too much has changed.

Perhaps it has not hit me yet that I am in college and can do whatever I want, whenever I want. Probably as the year goes on I will understand that I can skip a class if I do not feel like getting out of bed or can stay out and party every night of the week. Right now I am too worried about my grades to miss any classes and will party only on the weekends, with an occasionally weekday thrown in for special occasions. To me people in college have always seemed to be extremely intelligent and much older. I definitely do not feel as old as I thought college students were and am nowhere near the intelligence level of one. As the year goes on I imagine I will realize that college students only think they know everything and act a certain way to be perceived as being older than they really are.

I have met people who in their short time here have been forever changed. That is just not the case with me. I have not had one of those tremendous realizations about myself as a person. I still have no idea what lies ahead for me in the world. I do not know what I want to be when I grow up and I do not all of the sudden know who the real me is. I think I have always been true to myself over the years. I know that college is probably an experience that is going to change me, but it will not happen in the first couple months. I am a theatre major here and have enjoyed my classes, but if I will be a theatre major when I leave will only be known in time. To get a fairly full college experience I believe it will take a couple years. It is going to take time before I find my close group of friends, who will impact my life and stay with me till I die and to discovery anything else I may be looking for while I am here.

The biggest change I find at college is tha t I have no job. I have worked for my dad at his pizza parlor since I can remember. I have spent about seven years at that place watching employees come and go. That restaurant is my home away from home. While my friends were out at parties or at the beach, I was working. The weird thing is I did not mind because I loved my job. When I came here my parents told me that school was my job. This is understandable because first off I do not have a car to drive me to work and back and second juggling a job, classes and a social life your first year might be a little difficult. Although I do not have too much down time, I find I have more time now than at home to sit and contemplate. There is always something to think about, whether it is school, friends, boys, home or life in general, I find myself amazing even me with the things my mind may come up with. Of course I would never tell anyone else what I am thinking because they might think I am crazy, but it amuses me. Y ou never really know the potential philosopher you could be until you just sit back and think about life.

College brings together people from all walks of life. There are so many different types of people in the world but if you go to a college campus, you are sure to find at least one of every kind. The great part about being here with so many different people is you get to interact with some interesting characters and see how to deal with people you may not get along with. You will meet the people you dread the most, the smart-ass, the brain, or the unique spirit, but not matter who it is that is your worst nightmare to be around you will always be paired up with them in a group project. When you get into the real world you are not going to be able to pick your boss or coworkers. Interacting with these people in college and living with different roommates will help you learn how to co-operate with the people in life you find so incorrigible. College life is fun. The fact that I have been here for a short time just means it has not yet been a life changing experience to me. The biggest problems I have had are with the truth that girls will gain the freshman fifteen and that your computer will crash on you when you have a paper due the next day. We have all had computer problems, so that is not a big deal and you just have to watch what you eat and stay active so to not gain too much weight. If I were to give any tips on how to survive, it would not be how to survive college, but how to survive life. I would have to say that one should be outgoing and live life to the fullest. Meet new people whenever you can because they just may be a major influence in your life. Also, get your work done before you go out and party so that you are not pulling all nighters.Lastly, I would have to say, in life if you ever feel lost or alone talk to someone about it. Everyone gets depressed at times in their life and there is always someone who will listen to your problems, just like you will be there when that person needs you. As long as you are happy with who you are you can live a virtuous life.

College life in the first three months may not be too different, but I look forward to it changing and throwing me a curve ball every now and then. I hope to evolve as the years go on. Maybe meeting that special someone or possibly just realizing what I want to do with my life is the reason I am here. No matter what it is I will enjoy meeting people and finding myself in brand new situations, taking life with every turn it gives me. Everyone has a different college experience and for me the adventures are just beginning.


For eighteen years I learned everything I could, but within the last three months I have learned more about myself than ever before. I have learned that I can handle situations on my own, that I, although very shy, can still make friendships that last I a lifetime, and that I do not always have to be perfect. I have learned so much during the first quarter here at Cal Poly, and I still have more to learn as my education continues. I feel as if my life has just begun. All the experience that I gained during the few months I have been here will stay with me forever. I know that they will always be in my memories because I have never experienced anything like them before. And people say the first time you experience something you will never forget exactly what happened.

When applying to college, I wanted a change from everything that I had come to know. I lived in a big city and I did not enjoy the atmosphere and the people in my community, everyone was so bitter and mean. Everyone that lived there wanted to get out of the town and the new people that came did not come by choice. I applied to colleges that were located in small towns, which is why I fell in love with Cal Poly. This community is so friendly and open to the college population that you feel a part of it. When I first visited Cal Poly I finally realized that I thrive in a small town. I am not afraid to be myself.

I remember the morning that I was to leave for Cal Poly. I was so excited and happy but at the same time I was sad. I was not sad because I was about to leave the life that took me eighteen years to make, but I was sad because I felt I was a bad American. How could I be so happy after everything that was happening in the world? For just four days before, the attacks of September 11 happened. This was my first dose of reality; the world that I had come to know was not as perfect as I had previously thought. And just because I lived in the good old US of A did not mean that I was safe. Although the most terrible thing that I had ever experienced was happening I knew that I had to go on with my life. If I did not they would win, and I would not allow them to take over my life. So I went on with they day like nothing was bothering me.

The first day was a little overwhelming. I had just met my roommate; the girl that I would be living with for the next nine months. I am a very shy person so I was nervous to go and meet everyone. Slowly I started to warm up and I realized that I was not the only one scared. I started to introduce myself to the girls living around me. I also got used to answering the same questions over and over again. "What is your major?" "Where are you originally from?" And other questions similar to these. I could not wait to get to know them and make friendships that would last.

Three months later I am still learning about everyone and I see friendships that I hope last for life. Some of the friends that I have made here and myself have already started traditions. One of my favorite ones is when we all get together on Thursday nights, we call them our "Thursday Night Marathons." We watch about six TV shows on this night and we just relax in front of the television and wind down from the week. I look forward to these nights because after a hard week of homework, tests and everything else that professors decide to throw at you, it is nice not to worry about anything and just hang out with girlfriends. Along with our Thursday Night Marathons we also have Tuesday night television nights. We order pizza and soda and have a nice dinner together while watching some TV. I do not know what it is about the TV but it brings people together. Most of us grew up with the TV so I think it makes people less nervous and easier to meet people. I know for me I have made a lot of friends by going to our television parties.

Living in the dorms you meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends, but I also wanted to make friends who did not live in the dorm with me. I decided I could do this by joining a club. I was very involved in my high school club called Key Club so I joined the college level, which is Circle K. Both of these clubs are levels of the Kiwanis. It is a community service origination. Ever since I was little I was taught to give back to the community that has given me so much. I thought Circle K was the perfect way to do this. I have already helped at a ranch that helps handicapped kids by letting them ride the horses to feel what it is like to walk. I have also gone reverse trick-or-treating. That is where we went to an elderly community and handed out treats for Halloween. I also look forward to helping in the homeless shelter and doing other things around the community. I do not know what it is that drives me to help people less fortunate than me, I think that it is the looks of happiness that they give you and you know you made a difference. I know I cannot save the world but as long as I can make the difference in one person's life I will continue to be an active member of the Kiwanis family.

College life, although great, also has some downfalls. Like, for example, failing a test that you studied so hard for. That is what happened for me, it was the first time I had ever failed at something. It took that one test to realize that I am not perfect and that is ok. In high school I found myself thinking if I failed that I would be letting down my family, I would not be their perfect little angel. In my favorite song by Jessica Riddle it says, "You will fly and you will crawl, God knows even angels fall." I have to know that there will be good times but along with the good there has to be the bad. Bad things happen and there is nothing you can do about it except work with those times.

When you leave the life that you have known for eighteen years, you are bound to change a little bit. I found myself going home for my high school's homecoming faster than I thought; it just snuck up on me. I was a little nervous to go home and see everyone. When I got to the game I found that I was right in my presumptions; I had changed but they did not. I could not have the intellectual conversations that I had with my friends at college. Also they were living in the past, yes it is nice to remember but they were not moving on with their lives. I saw myself moving far apart from my friends. I never talk about college with them because I know they will think that I am bragging. I am trying to stay in touch with them but one side of the relationship can only do so much.

They say college is the time of your life, something that you carry with you forever. Before coming to Cal Poly I enjoyed listening to stories of people who have already been to college, just wishing that my experience would be as great as theirs. But it was hard to imagine what college life would be like, after all everyone has a different experience. There are some things in life we do not understand because we have never experienced anything like it before. So that is all I could do to the stories I had heard, listen. I have only been at Cal Poly for three months and I can already tell that nothing is going to come close to this. I feel college is not about learning facts and information, it is learning about you as a person. I know Cal Poly is letting me learn more about myself than any other situation has allowed.



Life is all about what choices we make and why we make them. As a high school student, life is fairly straightforward. One of the largest transitions people must undergo is from high school to college. College life is the first step to becoming independent and responsible. In high school, life is relatively easy because you have many choices to make and yet the choices generally do not have the same implications as college choices. Even if the choice is about drinking, it is much more difficult to become an alcoholic in high school while still attending school whereas in college the accessibility of alcohol enables everyone to have more effortless access. Choices like alcohol, drugs, sex and money issues are just a few of the many choices that must be made when you enter into college. Because of the importance of the choices available in college, it becomes what you make of it. College life is all about the choices you make in both the activities you choose to participate to the friends you choose to associate with.

I have always been a very introverted person. I have never been comfortable with going out on a limb to find friends, and thus in the past I have only had friends of convenience. To me, friends of convenience are people that you call your friends but you simply hang out with them at school because you have the same activities as they do. Other than two of my friends from high school, who I happened to receive completely by chance, all of my high school friends were such friends. We never had anything in common other than our high school activities. Although common activities are a good starting point for friendships to blossom from, there must also be common values and beliefs. With my friends over the years, I had common activities but never shared common values, beliefs or experiences. Because I am very introverted, and have always been able to find these friends of convenience, I have never had much practice at making real friends. When I came to college I only came with one of my friends from high school. Luckily, though, it was one of my real friends. Yet, it is difficult to be happy and content with only one friend, and I knew that I would have to find ways to make new ones. I knew my talents and interests would help me find friends when I got to college, even if I was only able to make friends of convenience. Being able to participate in-group activities is one of the abilities that enabled me to make friends.

One of the most influential group activities I have ever participated in was WOW. WOW is the Week of Welcome orientation program at Cal Poly. You are placed into a group of about ten other freshmen with two group leaders. My WOW group was composed of band people and we started to get to know each other through many activities that build group trust and feelings. The first day we played a game to break the ice by placing words on each of our backs, and we had to guess what it was by asking others yes or no questions. This was a very good icebreaker; we had fun and it was also something to talk about for the remainder of the day. This common and fun experience that we had at the beginning of our time together was a common place to start from. Throughout the week we were also forced to eat our meals together each day. At the beginning I thought this was a very stupid and pointless idea. Yet, because we had no choice but to sit together, we were able to get to know each other in a relatively short period of time. Thus, as the week wore on, we were able to develop friendships that first week. These friendships began to appear as if they would just become and remain friends of convenience. Surprisingly, these friendships quickly moved on from friends of convenience to true friends where we could trust each other. One of the reasons we first found each other was that we were all very unsure of ourselves in our new environment and we were all looking for friends. Even though we were thrust together we were able to discern that we each had wonderful qualities that contributed to our group as a whole and that enabled us to find our common beliefs. These friends have been there for me these first three months of college life and have helped me to get involved and stay engaged in other group activities.

Although orientation was a good first step into the world of college, I needed to do more. One of the ways I did this began prior to the summer. Many months prior to attending college, and even registering for orientation, I was determined to participate in the marching band. I was in my high school marching band all four years of high school; I thoroughly enjoyed it, and made all of my friends through this activity. Even though I knew these people were simply friends of convenience, I realized it was better to have friends of convenience than to not have friends. Since I had decided to come to Cal Poly, I was set on joining the marching band to meet new people. The week before school started, during orientation week, the Cal Poly Marching Band had band camp. We practiced from Sunday at ten until Saturday night. Our breaks from band only consisted of times for food and the necessary orientation activities we had to participate in. When other orientation groups were going kayaking, hiking, or just lounging around with each other, we were on the field up by the agriculture department marching back and forth all day. The hardest thing about this week was not the actual work, but the feelings evoked when we would return to the dorms and hear other freshman complaining about not having any time because they had been at the beach all day kayaking and then had gone to the spa. At this point we had just come back from marching for 4 hours straight with only an occasional water break. Although it may sound as if I did not enjoy band camp, that is not true. If it had not been for band camp I do not think I would be happy up here at college. The friends that I had made through orientation were also all in band, which enabled us all to spend time together that first week in many different settings. I strengthened my relationships with these people, and I was also able to make new friends through band. In band, you spend a lot of time with those in your section. In my section, clarinets, I was able to get to know everyone very well. During breaks, you tend to quickly meet new people because all there is to do is talk. Even though I am not an outgoing person, because of the situation, I did not have much of a choice but to socialize. Since I was forced into socializing, I was able to meet many new people and begin relationships that would continue through these first months of college and hopefully beyond. You tend to have similar experiences and personalities with at least one or two people in a group as large as a marching band. Not only that, but through the common base of being a musician, you have something that everyone can relate to. Friendships can begin here and eventually through time and effort can mature into true friendships.

These friends have become my anchor in college. Without these new friends here I would have become lonely, withdrawn, and depressed. This group of friends that I made has enabled me to be happy here at Cal Poly and has also helped me branch out into other areas of campus life. They have encouraged me to join other clubs and organizations that I enjoy, and yet would probably not have participated in without their support. These inspiring friends all stemmed from my participation in WOW week and marching band. If I had not chosen to undertake these activities, I would not have been put into the situations to meet these people. No one forced me to do these activities, they were all extracurricular and purely by choice. It is through choices like this that we are able to take our life into our own hands. We cannot rely on other people to push themselves into our lives. Even if we do not enjoy or want to participate in all the activities, if we do not attempt some of them our opportunities to meet new people and make friends is very limited. College life is all about choices and the effects of those choices. It is our right to not take on any activities and become a loner. However, it only hampers our ability to make quality friends. To truly transition well into a college atmosphere, the main thing to aim for is a high quality friend that you can rely on for support and help. These friends are most readily found when you extend yourself beyond your comfort zone and push yourself to your limits to immerse yourself in activities. My choices led to a small group of wonderful friends. This group of friends makes me feel lucky to be alive and ecstatic that I am able to spend time with them everyday.



How The Dorms Have Made Me A Better Person

The greatest lessons I have learned in the past three months that I have been at college have come from my experiences living with people that I did not chose to live with in the dorms. Through the experience of living with people in the dorms I have learned about myself, about the importance of expressing feelings and respect, about relationships, and about how to tell a person's true character. Living in the dorms is like nothing I have ever experienced before. It is like a summer camp that lasts all year with the added stress and pressure of schoolwork. There are so many people from different backgrounds being mixed together in cramped buildings and being expected to live peacefully with each other. It is this skill of being able to be flexible and live with strangers and appreciate their differences that I am sure that I will value and put to use in the future more than the knowledge I have learned in my classes.

After only the first couple weeks of school I felt as if I had known the people in my dorm for a couple years. In the past I had never experienced living with friends, or anyone else besides my family members. I was use to only seeing friends at school and on the weekends; I had never lived with them. Because the people that are in the dorms spend so much time together it feels as if they know each other extremely well, when in actuality, the only things they know about another person is the actions they have seen and what the person has told them. No one really knows a person's past unless that person talks about it. In most cases, a person who has had to deal with something really tough in his or her life will not talk about it if it is still painful to think about, remember or talk about. This means that no one who lives with this person is aware of the pain in his or her life and therefore does not realize that careless, coarse, or derogatory words are really offensive and hurtful to that person. I have found that it is really important to be respectful to everyone because a person never knows what hurt someone else has had to deal with. Some people that I live with in the dorms have said some things that have offended me when I know that it was not his or her intent to do so. Regretfully, I have probably offended some people that I live with in my ignorance to that person's past or living situation. I have found that I think about the effect my words might have on another person more than I use to, now that I have lived in the dorms for three months. In that aspect, living in the dorms has definitely made me a more respectful person, which I hope is a quality that I will continue to develop as I age.

If someone does get offended, it is important for that person to express his or her feelings. I have seen a couple relationships in the dorms ruined already because a person did not express his or her frustration upfront with the person that he or she was having a problem with. Open communication is an important key to living in the dorms. A girl on my floor, A--, was really frustrated with her roommate, D-, for a long time, but she never told her about her frustrations so D-a had no idea that how she acted was offending her roommate constantly. One day A- was trying to study and get some homework done so she asked D- to turn off the TV because it was really loud. D- refused to turn off the TV, but said she would turn it down. This set A- over the edge; she started yelling, swearing, and venting her frustrations at D-; she told her that she was a mean spirited, negative person and she hated living with her and could not stand it anymore. Two days later A- moved out of the dorm without resolving her conflict with D-. A- probably would still be living in my dorm if she had talked about her frustration the first time D- had made her angry. Then maybe D- would have changed the way she treated her roommate if she had known that her actions had been making A- angry. Another example of a fight that could have been avoided is a situation that happened between two people in my dorm, K- and C-. K- was upset and not feeling very well one night and had just finished eating. K- was in the lounge with her and was making fun of her boyfriend back home. K- got really upset and turned to leave the room, but C- kept on insulting her boyfriend. That pushed K- over the edge and she threw her soda at C-, getting soda all over him, then she threw what was left of her "instant lunch at him" while yelling at him and putting him in his place for making fun of her boyfriend. She walked over and slapped him across the face. She was crying and yelling at him about how he mistreats people in general. K- and C- just a couple days ago started talking again, which is two weeks after their fight happened. If people would just express their feelings of frustration and anger, others would probably try to act more respectfully and unnecessary fights might be prevented more often.

I have learned a lot about myself by how I react to and interact with other people. I realized that I use to judge people by how they looked a lot more than I should have. When I first moved into the dorms I thought that I wouldn't really like anyone on my floor expect for a couple people, strictly based on what I thought they were like because of how they look. I was judging them on my very first impression of them before I ever talked to them or got to know them. But now that I have spent time with them and seen what they are really like, I am really good friends with most of them. I have connected and built friendships with people that I never thought I would have. I realized by living with other people what I slob I am. Out of respect for other people, especially my roommate, I am a much neater person now than I was at the beginning of the year. Other people have told me about behavioral patterns they have noticed in my relationships with other people. Because we live together, the people on my floor and I have seen each other in all moods and situations and we, therefore, know a lot about how we react to people and situations more than a friend that doesn't live me would.

By living in the dorms I have learned how to tell a person's true character. Because I live with the people in my dorm, I see them in different types of situations, including ones that my floor mates are not happy with. When someone is in a situation that they don't want to be in or have no control of, his or her true character is revealed. When a person is not in control, it is harder for them to put on a façade. I was doing laundry with a guy from my dorm, R-, and I accidentally knocked over his cup of bleach and spilt in on the washing machine; the spill was not a big deal I cleaned it up, but R- lost his temper. He started yelling and swearing, which is out of character for him. I learned a lot about R- that day; he has a really bad temper and loses control when the slightest thing goes wrong. That says a lot about him as a person. I have learned a lot about the people I live with by seeing them react to different situations, sometimes their reactions disappoint me, but other times they earn more respect.

When I first moved into the dorms the thought ran through my head that I would not have chosen to live with these people if I had that choice. I'm sure that many other people in my tower thought that too. But now that I have lived with the people I enjoy their company very much, I love hanging out with them and my floor as a whole has bonded a lot. We go out to eat together, we hangout on the weekends a lot, we stay up talking all night sometimes, and we appreciate each other's differences. We are good friends and have all learned important life lessons together. One of which is the lesson that I know will be very useful for the rest of my life: getting along with people and learning to respect their differences.



My First Three Months At Cal Poly

Entering my first days of college I had many fears that were following me including not making friends, not being compatible with my roommate, the move away from my parents and the campus food, along with a million other things. I was very worried that I would not be able to do well in my classes and that I wouldn't be able to get involved in the school. The biggest concern overall was finances, such as how I was going to pay for college and what the impact would be on my parents and siblings. The last thing I wanted college to be for my parents would be a burden. I soon figured that most of these fears were nothing to worry about and began to enjoy and feel comfortable in my new home and life.

I was very nervous the first few days that I arrived because I was worried that I would be lonely and wouldn't make any friends that would even compare to my childhood ones. This fear soon disappeared when the Week Of Welcome activities started and I became instant friends with many of my fellow group members. We did so many fun activities that week and got to know each other very well. One of the funniest things we did was dress up and go to the farmers market, our group was the sixty three hommie g's so we dressed up as gangsters and it was so fun to get all the looks from everyone there. I still go out with those friends, in fact just recently some of my fellow WOWies and I went to a club called, The Grad, and had a blast dancing and getting away from studying.

But even those new friends don't compare to the many that I have made within the dorm, and not even on my floor. I have made the majority of my friends on the second floor and they have become so special to me that I think we will remain friend for a long time. We have a tradition to watch Gilmore Girls on Tuesday nights in one of our rooms and we order pizza every couple of weeks. I have come to look forward to these nights and it is also a way to get a break from school work. We have all gone out to dinner both on and off campus, gone shopping and to the movies and I really enjoy their company. I don't know what I would have done with out these friends to help me through the first quarter here, we are all in the same boat so we can share our fears, hard times and accomplishments.

There are always the worries of whether or not you get along with your roommate and how that effects your living situation. But I found out that I had nothing to worry about. I was able to talk to my roommate once on the phone before I was thrown into the situation where I would live with her for the entire year in a small room. She sounded really nice on the phone but I was still unsure because you can't really tell who a person is over the phone. I found out that we had some stuff in common such as large families but we had differences as well such as taste in music, she likes rap and I like country. But since we have started living together we have clicked and get along really well. I was worried that I would loose a lot of privacy living in such tight quarters but I actually feel the opposite. We have classes at different times and different friends, so we still hang out but have separate lives here. We still have time together as well and go shopping, to the movies or the gym. You will find that even the opposite personalities can go well together and get along just fine.

I really enjoyed living in the dorms and found that it helped me to concentrate on my studies more. It is especially nice in the Living Learning dorms because a majority of your friends are in the same college and you can help each other with homework and have the same interests. The only bad thing about living in the dorms is that you have to eat the on campus food. I have to say that my appetite definitely changed when I started eating cafeteria food and I look forward when I go home to get good food. But if you are getting desperate and don't want to go home there are a lot of places in San Luis Obispo that have great food. Another concern was that I heard rumors that Cal Poly was a major party school, but I found it to be the opposite and have actually drank less here than I did senior year in high school. You will find that you are so busy with work, social activities and many other things to get too much into the party scene.

I am glad to say that I really enjoyed my first quarter at Cal Poly as far as classes and getting involved goes. I found that all of my classes were good transitional classes because they were easy but a lot of work was involved in them. One main difference between high school classes and college classes is that the teachers don't take role and usually don't care if you miss a class. This becomes a bigger challenge though because you have to be responsible and go to the classes even though there is a temptation to cut the class. I found that all the teachers here at Cal Poly are easy to talk to and usually easy to access, except finding their offices in the maze which can be tricky. They are always willing to help you out and are very understanding.

It was also very easy to get involved in the campus. I joined a club this quarter because I wanted to be involved somehow. I joined the Circle K International which is a community service club associated with Kiwanis. I have had many rewarding experiences through the club including making friends, social activities and community service projects . By far the best community service project that I did was the Krazy Kompetition for Kids. This event was held in San Francisco, so we got to go on a road trip and get to know fellow club members. The event was put on to raise money for the Infant Trauma Unit and we did various relay races and other fun activities to try and win the over all competition. My team did very well and placed second so we got comedy tickets for a club in San Francisco, then we got to hang out in San Francisco. I am really glad that I am involved in this club because we get to help others in our community while having a great time.

I believe that this whole experience of college is worth the price you have to pay. The biggest and most viable concern for me was how I was going to make it through my four years of college financially. I was pretty heartbroken when I learned that I had only been offered a five hundred dollar loan for my entire financial aid package. In fact I wasn't sure if I would be able to attend because I didn't want to put my parents in that situation with three other children to support. I have been working since I was thirteen years old and knew that money would go towards it but I didn't realize how quickly that money would disappear until two tuition and two housing payments were paid and my account was basically empty. I know that I will be struggling through my year here financially but I will just have to find a job and I believe it is all worth it. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything and I am willing to get loans and make sacrifices in order to make it through.

Overall this first quarter was very rewarding for me, even with all the hardships that I have had to overcome. It has been a very tough quarter for me personally. I got really sick in the middle of the quarter and missed a week of classes when I found out that it was an infection in my mouth and had to have surgery. Then right before Thanksgiving my grandmother passed away and it was one of the hardest times I have had to go through. You will also find that you get sicker in the dorms because once one person has a virus it will go through the whole dorm. You hate to be away from home and your parents when stuff like this happens but I always was able to find comfort with my new friends here. I am really glad that I made it through this quarter and I am looking forward to the rest of my years here at Cal Poly.