Reflecting on my Second Quarter at Cal Poly SLO

At 1:30 a.m. last Thursday, I submitted my last final online, which means I have officially wrapped up my second quarter as a first-year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo!

In retrospect, I was definitely more serious about my academics this quarter, which translated to more time spent at work or studying in the library than slacking off or partying every chance I got. With that being said, it’s still a challenge for me to find a balance between good grades, a healthy social life, an adequate number of hours of sleep each night, sufficient time for self-care or leisure, an active gym routine, and overall sanity.

So without further adieu, here are the main 5 takeaways I’ve acquired from winter quarter:

  1. FOMO no ‘mo: Taking a break from frat parties and attending smaller kickbacks is so much better.
    Disclaimer: This is not to judge anyone who chooses to attend frat parties, or parties however they like (if at all!). This is how I personally prefer to have fun, but if you love going out with your friends to functions hosted by Greek organizations or held by any other on- or off-campus group, that’s awesome!
    Throughout my entire fall quarter – from the commencement of Week of Welcome to finals week  – I would go to frat parties with friends Thursday to Saturday night, and then use Sunday as a catch-up day. Although I had a lot of fun at these outings, the time I spent recovering from the night prior could have been spent studying for my next midterm, working on long-term projects, writing more posts for my blog, or just being more productive in general.
    Very early into my second quarter of college, I learned that winter quarter Roselyn had been burnt out by all these meaningless excursions and instead preferred to attend more intimate kickbacks with close friends. It wasn’t that I had completely been cured of FOMO (fear of missing out); rather, I craved deeper connections with friendships I had already cultivated during fall quarter, which was precisely what I wasn’t obtaining whenever I would go to frat parties.
    Despite weaning off such events, I’m not implying that I won’t attend any more Greek life parties in the future (after all, they’re still really fun after an excruciatingly long week of studying and working). It’s just that throughout winter quarter, I thought there were better, more meaningful parties than the ones I attended fall quarter, and that’s what worked out for me.
  2. A serious, monogamous relationship is impractical as a freshman (for me).
    If you have the capacity to balance God-knows-how-many units of classes, a part-time job or internship, multiple co-curricular activities, and a relationship, I applaud you. I personally can’t.
    I had a semi-bad experience late fall quarter to early winter quarter in which my naivety compelled me to believe that I would be able to handle a long-distance, monogamous relationship, and I quickly learned that would not be the case. We ended up having little to no closure to our relationship, and though we are now able to speak with one another amicably, I am slightly haunted by the idea of returning to more serious/monogamous forms of dating any time soon.
    What does this mean for me? Although it’s completely backwards from what mainstream society and my cultural upbringing have narrativized upon me throughout the past 18 years of my life, I’m starting to open up more to the idea of casual dating/open relationships. It may sound absurd and flat out wrong to many people, but for me, it’s the most feasible option as a busy college student surrounded by an insurmountable number of smart, cute, funny guys at Cal Poly.
    This, however, isn’t to shame anyone for choosing monogamy or serious dating in college – if you prefer that mode of dating, I wholeheartedly support it and I’m rooting for you and your significant other! It’s just that for my personal lifestyle and preferences, I’d rather save monogamy/serious dating for when I am older and more able to support myself and readier to consider the idea of marriage. For now, I’m enjoying college.
  3. My external appearance mirrors my internal wellbeing.
    In other words, the degree to which I take care of myself emotionally will show in my skin, my outfits, my habits, and my actions, so I should take self-care more seriously and not be ashamed to dress nicely for class or to try something new with my hair every so often.
    I’ve noticed that when I was still in high school, I wouldn’t care about the way I looked. I used makeup every day, but for the most part, I would roll out of bed with the outfit I planned on wearing to school that day and never fix my hair.
    Now that I’m in college, I’ve put a tinge more effort into my daily appearance, spicing up my hairstyle every few weeks or accoutering new earrings to vamp up an otherwise drab ensemble. This has helped boost my confidence levels tenfold and afforded me a token of excitement every morning, as if I always have something to look forward to each day of the week.
    This, I should add, never cost me more time or extraneous spending to accomplish. I would merely mix two pieces of clothing together (e.g. a corduroy skirt and an off-the-shoulder, long sleeve top) that I had never before adorned at the same time, or I would wear a new hat. For me, fashion is all about comfort and trying out new pieces or accessories, so I would recommend exploring the depths of your closet and amalgamating various apparel to create more eccentric ensembles. Being more creative with my outfits has indubitably enhanced the way I carry myself around my peers and superiors and has granted me a small, yet significant incentive to get out of bed at 6 a.m. every day, ready to conquer whatever the day has in store for me.
  4. Being a morning person has made way for increased productivity – even on the weekends.
    Prior to moving in to Cal Poly, I thought I epitomized a night owl. In high school – especially at the peak of my senioritis – I had stayed up until 1 a.m. every day and felt more compelled to get work done past 10 p.m. as opposed to immediately after school.
    As a college student, however, my routine has exponentially changed (for the better, in my opinion). Like I mentioned earlier, I wake up Monday through Thursday at 6 a.m. and Friday through Sunday no later than 9 a.m. Any time past 9:30 a.m. is super late for me.
    In college, I’ve learned that time is of the utmost importance, and wasting any second could result in less study time, which obviously leads to worse academic performance. If I start my day at 10 a.m. or later, that’s shedding up to four hours of  possible time spent creating a Quizlet for an upcoming midterm, creating eye-catching social media graphics for my job, or applying for summer internships.
    Personally I am capable of waking up at the crack of dawn every day and going to bed at or before midnight with the assistance of numerous Yerba Mate cans and iced coffee cups from Starbucks, but I understand this number of hours of sleep may be insufficient for many students. Not everyone in college is willing to be – or can be – a morning person, which is why I suggest experimenting with multiple morning and night routines and seeing what works best for your class/work schedule. If you can’t stand 8 a.m. classes, then by all means, avoid them like the plague. On the other hand, if you can handle 8 a.m. classes like me, see how you can best implement them into your daily schedule.
    Being a morning person does have its downfalls. For example, I crash at around lunchtime every day, requiring me to make a coffee or Yerba Mate run at 2 p.m. to avoid taking a nap that could possibly result in my productivity levels nosediving from then until the end of the day.
    Like I’ve said countless times, college is all about creating your own schedule and seeing what works best for you. Sacrificing sleep may be necessary, but as long as you’re putting your best foot forward in your classes, your job, your friendships, and your personal life, you should be golden.
  5. Regardless of your test scores, what matters most in college is your growth as a person, as a student, and as a future stakeholder in the global community, so strive to be the best version of yourself.
    This is one of the most important takeaways that winter quarter has graced me with. In retrospect, I used to be consumed by the effort of earning a 4.0 GPA in high school and winning the respects of every single professor, acquaintance, and cohort who crossed my path. This past quarter, I learned that being a people-pleaser is too draining, and that I should first and foremost aim to make myself happy by ensuring that I am doing all I can not to relapse or self-harm and balancing my time more efficiently between school- and work-related obligations and my mental and physical health.
    Though it shames me not to be 100% clean yet, I am proud to admit that I was able to endure 9 weeks of the quarter without self-mutilating and 6 weeks of the quarter without experiencing a mental breakdown. This is one of the most meaningful achievements I have had in college, mainly because fall quarter me had gone less than 3 weeks without self-harming and less than a week without experiencing a mental breakdown.
    If you have ever experienced or know someone who has experienced self-harm, you may know that the temptation to self-mutilate is a daily battle within the mind. When paired with the stresses of work and school, the thoughts seem to never cease. This hustle and bustle, I’ve found, has given me a sense of purpose and has motivated me to contribute meaningfully to all aspects of my life. But when it gets a bit much, the idea of turning to self-harm crosses my mind.
    Staying clean for 9 weeks was an incredibly special milestone for me, even if it may not seem like much. I’m gradually making more and more progress as I traverse through Cal Poly, and I hope that by sharing my experiences with you (if you’re also struggling in university), that you may be inspired to reach out for help or to make an effort to stop hurting yourself. There’s hope for you and me, and we will get through this together.

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