To ease homesickness, new students can make friends by participating in on-campus activities such as the Week of Welcome (WOW) program, like incoming freshmen in 2010 did (pictured above). Krisha Agatep – Mustang Daily

As I write this, wowies are just beginning their new lives at Cal Poly. What’s crazy is that I was there just a year ago. I was planning my very first schedule, meeting my best friend and then moving into my residence hall. There are a lot of things I learned, and wish I had learned, that made my freshman year almost as cool as my first year at Hogwarts would have been.

So with that, here are my top ways to make your freshman year the best year of your life:

1. Let change happen. Things are changing. You will look back in June and be amazed by how different you are from the person who moved to San Luis Obispo in September. That being said, you’re going to bounce around for a while, looking for your place in this beautiful town. You may not stay close with the people from your Week of Welcome (WOW) group, you may not be friends with your roommates and things may not go according to plan. Regardless, everything works out in the end. Really. So go with the flow and accept change. You’ll be surprised by how great it turns out.

2. Get to know everyone. When I say everyone, I really mean everyone. Some of the closest friends I made here are people I wouldn’t have approached in a high school setting. But here, things are different. Everything is brand new, stereotypes are long gone and people really come into their own.

Coming into freshman year, I didn’t have close friends that I had gone to high school with at Cal Poly, so I started completely fresh. I think it’s better that way. It takes some alone time to really appreciate the time you have surrounded by people who love you. So go out and find those people.

In your residence hall, in your classes, the clubs you join (because you’re going to get involved, right?), your WOW group. Grab breakfast with your next door neighbor, sit at a table with someone who’s sitting alone. They could become your best friend. Or you could score a date. Or they could be a weirdo. Either way, take the leap and make some new friends.

3. Get involved. I can’t say this enough. If it weren’t for everything I did on campus last year, I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people, and I wouldn’t have learned quite as much about myself and who I want to become. That sounds really cheesy, but this year is really transformative. Surround yourself with people and activities that inspire you.

Now is the time to do things you’ve always wanted to. Join a few clubs, apply for an on-campus job, play intramural sports. Challenge yourself.

I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me, if you love what you’re doing, you can make time for it. And it’s way easier to cut back on activities than add more as the school year progresses. So get involved now!

4. Take advantage of the WOW program. WOW is kind of  a big deal. Your WOW leaders worked hard making this incredible week for you, and it only happens once. Most Mustangs will tell you they’d give anything to be a wowie again, and they mean it. So please, be a wowie. Participate in all the adventures your group is going on. You have four years in San Luis Obispo to do your own thing, but you only have one Week of Welcome. So disregard your cool card and embrace the calls of “WOWIES!” that you’ll hear all week. You won’t regret it.

5. Call your family. I know this might sound obvious, but don’t underestimate the power of a phone call home. Plus, they want to hear from you. No matter how tearful their goodbyes may be, your family wants you to be happy, and they want to hear about your adventures.

So pick up the phone every once in a while and give them an update. You don’t have to be like me and call your mom every day, that’s a little overkill (no it’s not. Really. It’s not). But they miss you. And if you miss them too, you should make sure they know.

There are a handful of other ways to make freshman year great, but I think these five sum up the most important ones. So go out and get involved, make new friends and discover how to make your time at Cal Poly the best time of your life.

Deal? Deal.

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