Moving away to college is a turning point in life for most students. Many adjustments are made, and students must adapt to their new lives away from the comforts and rules of home.

Whether it is struggling with a roommate or coming to fully comprehend the dedication and time it takes to study adequately, college is a time of new beginnings and learning lessons — oftentimes the hard way.

I had awaited this time in my life for years — the time when I would move away from home and go to college was finally here.

Although I was thoroughly excited about moving away, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I wondered if I would successfully make friends, how rigorous my studies would be and what life in general would be like.

Being here at Cal Poly has been amazing so far — and my experience is just getting started. I feel adjusted, but also realize that

I have a lot left to learn.

Take last weekend, for example.

There I was, standing outside in the frigid, chilly night wind that swirled violently and pushed temperatures to a less-than-comfortable level.

My dirty feet were bare, I was out of breath and I had just decided that the gruesomely bruised up leg in front of me did, in fact, belong to me. I might have resembled a person who had recently become homeless.

How did I get myself into this situation?

It all began with an evening out at a party that a few of my friends and I had been invited to. Even though my night ended barefoot, I did put on a pair of comfortable flip-flops before the party, along with a simple top, shorts and a light sweater.

After a couple hours of movin’ and groovin’ on the suffocatingly hot and sweaty dance floor, I stepped outside with my friend. I had no idea that things would soon take a turn for the worst.

As I stood there chatting with a friend, a girl approached me and accidentally stepped on the top of my shoe. My initial reaction was to lift my foot, which caused my flip-flop to break.

At that moment, something snapped. Suddenly I was in a rage, and I felt the need to rip my shoes — both the normal sandal and the broken sandal — off my feet and throw them over the fence.

I immediately realized that this was the absolute least logical thing I could have done at the time. This did not only result in me as a pathetic, barefoot fool, but also a very frustrated one.

I tried to stay positive though, knowing the night was still young and there was a bit of dancing and socializing left to do — or so I thought. Then I heard the news: the party was being shut down by the police after a noise complaint.

I hopped on the back of a kind friend who offered to carry me to the side of the house by the fence. I soon learned the only way to avoid being questioned by the authorities about the noise was to hop the fence into the front yard. We had no choice.

So over the fence I went, but I didn’t get away unscathed. Despite the help of my new tall, muscular friend who hoisted me over, my leg hit the side of the wooden fence, causing my now gnarly limb to become scraped and bruised.

At this point, my response became more practical. All throughout the rest of the long trek home, which I proudly endured without tears and with several friends by my side, I vowed to never get myself into this type of situation again.

I am constantly reminded to think before I speak. But I’ve come to find that what is more important is to think before you act — a realization that hit me late that night during my painful and humiliating barefoot march.

Join me each Monday as I continue to share my stories with readers about the unpredictable life of a freshman.

Sydney Ray is a journalism freshman.

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1 Comment

  1. Sydney,

    Wow, I am so proud! As someone who worked beside you every week as you produced awesome column after awesome column on The Feather, it is so great to see you continuing to do such admirable work.

    On a more subject-oriented note, I, as a college freshman myself, totally understand where you’re coming from! I haven’t ended up bloodied and barefoot, but I have felt similarly frustrated and foolish! I suppose the time will come for us to learn the ropes of the college life.

    love always,


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