From July 28-29, I attended SLO Days, which is the freshman orientation for Cal Poly SLO Mustangs.
During freshman orientation, I met my roommates (Caitlin and Irene), slept overnight in Poly Canyon Village, danced some Zumba at the Recreation Center, played games with new friends and learned a little bit about what to expect during my next four years at a Cal Poly Mustang.
Though I had loads of fun at SLO Days, there were a number of moments when I felt unprepared, or when a friend of mine forgot a few items from home that were necessary for orientation.
Here are a few pieces of advice I have for any future admitted Mustangs before they attend their SLO Days:
- Pack light.
During my SLO Days, I made the mistake of bringing too many bags and clothes that I ended up not using during my time at orientation. On the second and final day of orientation, we had to walk from Poly Canyon Village all the way to the University Union, which felt like 20 minutes of hell with four bags, my pillow, blanket and many other items.
For this reason, I highly suggest packing as light as possible. Calculate the times you’ll be changing throughout orientation (after a shower, emergency panties for girls on their period, etc.) and stick to that. If you’re worried about the weather, remember that San Luis Obispo is generally very chilly in the mornings and nights and gets much warmer around noon, so pack a light sweater for the hotter times of the day.
- Remember the essentials.
Although packing light is crucial, it’s also important to not forget any essentials on the packing list provided on your Cal Poly Now app. Here are several important items that you should (and need to) bring to SLO Days that your peers may forget:
– Bed sheets. Poly Canyon Village’s beds are cushy, but sticky without any sheets. Bring twin XL bed sheets so you can fall asleep comfortably at night.
– Snacks. Some presentations will last from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Do yourself and your fellow Mustangs a favor by bringing your favorite chips, cookies or fruits with you to each session. Your growling stomach and friends sitting next to you will thank you for it!
– Workout attire. If your SLO Days experience is anything like mine, you will go to the campus’s Recreation Center on the night of the first day, so pack your favorite workout sweats, tank top or any other clothing that allows a full range of motion. I brought breathable leggings and a shirt, but feel free to pack basketball shorts or spandex. Depending on your SLO Days group leader, you may or may not be permitted to go back to your room in Poly Canyon Village to change, so bring your workout clothes with you when you first leave your room in the morning!
- Eat meals quickly.
At SLO Days, you and your group won’t be given all the time in the world to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is why I recommend eating as fast as possible when you obtain your food – your group leaders and presenters won’t wait for you too long to finish your plate!
- Download and refer to the Cal Poly Now app constantly.
Even before you step onto campus for SLO Days, you’ll need to refer to your Cal Poly Now app for a list of things to pack, where to go for check-in, what presentations and workshops to expect and much more.
Use your Cal Poly Now app throughout orientation – it’s free, user-friendly and super handy for the times you get lost and need to navigate around campus.
- Contribute to group discussions.
Throughout my freshman orientation experience, the topics of diversity and inclusiveness resurfaced often. During group discussions, we would delve into our own experiences with diversity and learn about the struggles that people of color and other marginalized groups face every day.
When you and your group jump into such topics, contribute liberally. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to feel uncomfortable, especially with a topic with such significant magnitude. If you feel fine doing so, share your personal experiences with race, sexual orientation, mental health and/or identity. This helps the students around you feel more included and may even open their eyes as to the times when they were an oppressor.
- Work out at the Recreation Center.
Whether you love exercising or not, you will have the opportunity during SLO Days to spend nearly three hours in the university’s recreation center, so take advantage of this opportunity!
If you’re into team sports, you can play basketball, dodgeball, and other fun activities. If you enjoy working out solo, there are loads of workout equipment at your disposal.
I personally recommend taking the Zumba class – it’s on the second floor right by the indoor track. You get to dance to fun, upbeat tunes for about one hour with a group. You may feel silly at first, but it’s a great way to get your blood pumping and your muscles working!
- Make new friends.
You’re going to meet so many people at SLO Days, so make it a goal to meet at least three people and to get their contact information and/or social media. That way, you’ll have a few friends before WOW starts and you can meet up with them before the school year!
I actually used SLO Days as an opportunity to meet my two roommates before we move in together in September, which is another great idea if you’ve never met or seen your roommate(s) in person.