Hannah Croft, a Santa Rosa High School graduate, enjoys the North Mountain Lawn at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Photo by Nick Katkov

Editor’s note: Hannah Croft graduated from Santa Rosa High School last June and is a freshman at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.

By HANNAH CROFT
SPECIAL TO TEEN LIFE

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for nearly nine weeks. I was hoping to update Teen Life much sooner about college life, but to be completely honest, I’m too busy. I am scrambling to finish my stories for the Mustang Daily, on top of my journalism class. I’m writing nonstop. So I apologize, Santa Rosa, for leaving you behind.
But you shouldn’t be too upset. Because as I sit here at a table, soaking up the free Wi-Fi in Starbucks and sipping iced tea — it’s 90 degrees in November — I’m reflecting on how happy I am. Busy, but happy. These little bits of down time between classes are cherished, let me tell you.
The quarter started abruptly. I was suddenly whisked from the summer-camp-esque environment that was move-in week into the fast-paced environment that is the quarter system. For the three hours of class I have a day, I’m studying an average of nine hours a day. (However, that is not to say that I’m sitting in my room for nine hours straight studying. Trust me.)
Classes started off well. That took me by surprise. Senioritis is long gone. Like a cold it took me a year to shake, it just vanished when I woke up on the morning of my first day. It’s not so hard, this studying business, when you’re taking classes you like. When the material is interesting. And even more so, when you’re not taught with busywork and workbooks and condescension. Schoolwork isn’t painful when it consists of reading the biography of Martin Luther King Jr. and writing news articles. All of my work has meaning. I’ve never been able to say that before.
I can honestly sit here and sing the praises of college life for a thousand words. That’s what this sounds like. But I don’t know what else to do. Happiness doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. I wake up every morning and discover another reason why this is the perfect place for me.
Speaking of waking up, sometimes I don’t. Don’t tell my mom, but I’ve slept through Spanish twice. Luckily, it’s a four-day-a-week class and we get five absences. But I’ve learned that when I don’t sleep a lot, I sleep through even the loudest of alarms. I also sleep through my roommate’s alarms. Solution? Sleep more.
That’s the thing about college; you’re responsible for fixing your own problems. Stressed? Figure out why, and amend the situation. Hungry? Grab a friend and go get food. Tired? Pull yourself away from the common room, as difficult as it is, and go to bed.
But with that responsibility comes the chance to make great decisions, too. Last night, I had my first guitar lesson. Today, my fingers ache from fretting. But I’ve wanted to learn to play guitar for as long as I can remember. Finally, FINALLY, I’m learning. College is your time to be proactive about things. Now, more than ever, you’re in control.
You’re probably expecting me to have something terrible to say about dorm life. Well I’m sorry to disappoint.
Day One I introduced myself to the girl across the hall, who is now my “other half.” Dorm life is by far my favorite aspect of living in San Luis Obispo. My dorm is designated for the College of Liberal Arts, and I’m incredibly lucky to live with this 300-person family. We sit in the common room and play games, tell stories, play music, watch movies, anything.
My first weekend here, I came down with a fever and the flu. All day, my new friends were popping by, bringing me tea and water and cold wash cloths. The next weekend, I did the same thing for the ones who, I’m almost certain, got sick from me. I had known these kids for a week, and already we were taking care of one another, making sure we were OK. Living together changes friendships. It builds a different kind of bond. Some strange combination of siblings and friends —whatever it is, I like it.
My friends never cease to amaze me. When my mom called to tell me my aunt passed away, I didn’t have to go far to find a shoulder to cry on and someone to cheer me up. If ever I feel homesick, or need to make cookies, I know where to go. It’s only been eight weeks, but I feel like we have experienced more in these eight weeks than we did in all of high school. We played enough getting-to-know-you games that we can honestly say we know each other — maybe too well.
If there’s one thing worth complaining about, it’s campus dining. I am not, by any stretch, impressed by the dining establishments here. Not even a little. I’m getting sick of salad and overcooked pasta, which is why my friends and I have begun punctuating our lives of bland campus food with exciting downtown meals. My advice: Save money, set some aside just for spontaneous trips to sushi. It’s worth it.
I guess it’s safe to say I’m feeling really good about college. I am now planning my schedule for winter quarter, which baffles me. I’m seven weeks into my first quarter, and I sit back sometimes and wonder how I got here, and how on earth I have had this much fun. I never thought I’d be here, going on adventures to wherever I want, writing for a daily newspaper, any of this.
College took me by surprise.
But a very pleasant surprise.