Keep calm and freshman on

I don’t really remember my first week of freshman year.

I remember my second week, though, and that was probably just as crazy. People leaving campus whenever they wanted to, starting class at 6 p.m., being yelled at by people standing at tables asking if I was interested in signing a petition for any given proposition – it was a lot to handle, given that my high school practically had prison guards watching the parking lots, I was out of school by 3 and no one in their right mind would trust have trusted my high school self to make any political decision.

But after a while, I became acclimated to Sonoma State. I landed a weekend job, meaning I barely went home and was forced to make friends with my roommates. I actively participated in my major, visited local hotspots like Bodega Bay, played dorky pranks on the boy I had a crush on and even bought a hamster (don’t tell my CSA).

Three years later, I’m still here. Because I didn’t go home much, I quickly became used to living on my own and planted my feet here – the opposite of what many freshmen do, which unfortunately results in them staying home for good. My roommates became my absolute best friends for life, I realized my major wasn’t right for me and switched, I’ve made unforgettable memories at that miserably windy beach and I’m going on two and a half years with that boy I used to play pranks on.

So after all these years, here’s what I’ve learned: take your first year as it comes, and let you be the only one who decides how it goes.

You’re going to meet a lot of people this year, and that’s great. Just like you, there are hundreds of other first-time freshmen just dying to get their feet wet. Be open to them. Don’t judge them. You’ll eventually realize that those stigmas you had in high school will fall off like pulled pork and soon enough, you’ll be smiling at everyone.

I didn’t go out to parties every weekend my freshman year, something I was embarrassed to admit for the longest time. And now – so what? That just means my friends and I would rather eat ice cream and watch Netflix or throw our own parties (seriously, don’t tell my CSA) than walk around M-Section in 45 degree weather wearing nothing but a mini dress and stilettos we can barely walk in. And I’ve met plenty of people who feel the same way. You’ve heard it your whole life, but here it is again: just because you think everyone’s doing it, it doesn’t mean that they actually are.

And here’s another piece of advice I’m sure you’ve already heard quite a few times: get involved. Join a club, sorority or fraternity; attend those awesome free events through ASP; go to a few Outdoor Pursuits through the Rec Center; volunteer with JUMP; even join us at the STAR next semester. Whatever your calling – whether you know it now or not – you’ll find some way to embellish it at Sonoma State.

I hope you’ve had an unforgettable first week (unlike I did) and that you’re excited to take on the rest of the semester. Don’t worry about what other people think of you or if we can tell if you’re a freshman (here’s a hint: don’t travel in packs so much). Be yourself, reach out for help when you need it, and most importantly – don’t buy a hamster because they get lost…real fast.