Welcome home! Just two short years ago I was in your shoes. After weeks lurking in the Class of 2016 Facebook group to pick out my future best friends based on profile pictures, I finally arrived in the beautiful, sweltering paradise that Princeton Review insists we all love so much.
Despite an abundance of misplaced confidence, I was, to put it simply, a hot mess. After 12 years of knowing exactly where to be for seven hours a day, I was suddenly responsible for taking care of myself and the transition proved to be bumpier than I had expected.
After attending a Pomona Chinese class taught exclusively in Mandarin (which I do not speak), I also managed to mix up my schedule and miss my very first Gov. 20 class. Upon realizing this fact, I had a mild panic attack and promptly bought my professor an apology plant, thinking this would be standard procedure (it is not).
What I learned from recounting the story of my shame shrub to my new CMC friends was that I was not at all alone in my struggles. Your first semester, and your first few weeks especially, are for working out the kinks. If you get lost on campus, there are hundreds of upperclassmen who can tell you where to go. If you miss a class, your professor will not hold it against you forever. And if you and your roommate get locked out of your dorm at midnight, your RA will still help you, even if it’s the third time that week.
When you’re on your own, you are much more competent than you might believe, but stumbling is still expected. Even in a class full of near perfect SAT scores, class presidents, and student entrepreneurs, no one is immune to the struggle that accompanies the largest transition in many of your lives.
I can guarantee that you will all have some moments in the next semester that you will look back on and cringe. A large portion of them probably happened at 6:01, but at least you had 300 other people embarrassing themselves too. It’s a bonding experience. My advice to you echoes Bill and Ted’s: be excellent to each other. You’re all figuring out how to survive here together, even when that means going to the Scripps Carnival and having awkward, slightly forced conversations about potential majors and hometowns.
Odds are that some of you will handle your first year here with a debonair poise that still eludes me. But for that poor soul out there that shatters a plate of World Wok in Collins in front of a table of seniors: I’ve been there. Let’s have a drink sometime.