The ominous clouds in the gray sky were looming over me like a large shadow. I walked past the Performing Arts Center and the bus stand to an area surrounded by three 2-story buildings and the cafeteria. Three green tents were posted and I stood behind a long line of students who were conversing with one another and had excitement written all over their faces while I stood with my knees trembling and my hands sweating. I finally reached the front of the line and I was called over my two volunteers clad in green t-shirts with the letters “SOAR Orientation” clad in golden yellow on the front. After I received my package and took my picture for my college I.D. card, I walked back to the Performing Arts Center to begin a 36-hour event that would transform me into a Cal Poly Mustang.
Fortunately, my anxiety disappeared once the event began. I was paired up in a group with fellow engineers who came from all throughout the state. Tyler, a Mechanical Engineering major from Salinas, California, was the clown of the group since he made everyone laugh with his endless jokes and critiques of illogical independent movies (i.e. Sharknado). Then there was Michael and Andrew, the coolest members of the group who knew just how to pass the time with fun brainteasers like Shoe Sculpture and the Key Game (both of which I still don’t understand a month after the orientation). We began as a group of 10 strangers paired by our majors, but 36 entertaining, adventurous, and memorable hours later, we became great friends who all had something in common besides our career choices and college we would be attending this fall. Together, we explored a foreign, uncharted territory—college.
The orientation event was designed to expose us more to the vast amount of resources available at Cal Poly as well as explore key, useful locations that would prove pivotal to our future college careers, such as the library, admissions building, career center, engineering complex (since we were an engineering group), and university center. We attended numerous workshops on time management, organization, and even a student panel to ask current Cal Poly students about how they transitioned to college and how they are adjusting to the college lifestyle. I absorbed it all like a sponge and it definitely eased the stress and anxiety I had about college. SOAR had left its mark on me as I said good-bye to Gold Team (the name of the group I was in) and headed back home on US-101 northbound. It was at that moment when I felt I had completed the transformation. I was no longer a high school graduate but a Cal Poly Mustang. I was ready to take on college with my head held high and my feet firmly standing on the ground. Instead of running away from my fear, I decided to face it and accept that I am now going to be a college freshman so I will do my absolute best to make the most out of it.
After my visit, the one thing that left a lasting impression on me was the brand-new Recreation Center—a three-story, 21,000 square foot building with facilities for all types of sports and exercises. On the other hand, what I look least forward to is my fall schedule—especially Monday and Wednesday. I have to wake up at the break of dawn to attend a 8 am Macroeconomics class and then have to walk in the pitch-black night for a 8 pm Introduction to Theatre class. Of course, I can only determine what’s in store for me on September 17—my first day as a college freshman. Until then all I can do is speculate.