The transition to college, as you have all heard, is difficult. Freshmen have to adapt to a completely new schedule, campus and way of life. But in the midst of all this change, we have found how to have one of the best times of our lives.

If you thought that nothing would top that one time you went skydiving or swimming with dolphins, well, let’s be honest, you know you are mistaken. Graduating high school and going to college has been on our minds ever since ninth grade when we learned we actually needed to care about our grades.

Actually coming to college is a totally different story. It is overwhelmingly exciting and scary, but nonetheless, incredible and most definitely one of the best times of our lives, especially when you are going to school in America’s Happiest City (you know it is true when Oprah says it).

Move-in day proved to be one of the hardest days for me, and most likely the rest of the freshmen class.

From moving in heavy boxes and luggage, walking up countless stairs to the dorms (and trying not to trip up them, which trust me, happened) and trying to stop your mom from crying, move-in was not very fun. Though tiring and gloomy, move-in was the first day we were able to meet the rest of the freshmen class and finally meet our roommate(s). It was on this day that I and many others realized Cal Poly was perfect.

Everywhere you walked there was a smiling face and even a few offers from classmates to aid you in moving. But it was slightly overwhelming to see 4,000 new faces and to think that there are 16,000 more people attending this lovely school.

Although coming to a completely new school filled with 20,000 people is a daunting thought, Cal Poly eases their incoming Mustangs into college life by providing a week dedicated to the freshmen: Week of Welcome (WOW), which began two days after move-in.

Filled with fun activities, including hiking, kayaking and even paintballing, WOW brought the week of a lifetime to the freshmen class. We split into groups and bonded over exploring and getting lost on campus, experiencing the good (and not so good) food and laughing over cheesy jokes our WOW leaders told.

In my experience we did not just bond with our group; we grew into a family, a family that was once just a group of 10 to 20 strangers.

Since moving in, most freshmen have found a second family, made up of WOW groups, roommates, floormates or all three.

The one week before classes began made our transition into college a smooth one. Easily one of the most incredible, not to mention helpful, weeks, WOW taught us the basics of college life while bettering our social skills, so that we were able to talk to people we never thought we would have talked to before.

Whether it’s because of the way they talk or the way they walk, these unlikely people in our lives became our friends, and these friends will undoubtedly last for the years to come.

As our freshman year continues, and we struggle through our classes and finding our place at this huge school, I will never forget the one week that brought all us freshmen shoulder-to-shoulder, literally, as a class.

So as the first week of freshman year ends, and we continue to adapt to succeed in our new surroundings (whatever we consider succeeding to be) we will do it together, as cheesy as that sounds. From the crazy and amazing WOW leaders to those that we accidentally bumped into in the residence halls, we have already begun to build bonds that not only have kicked off our college years with a bang but will also last a lifetime.

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