I’ve officially been at Pomona College for more than a month now, and I can hardly believe it. In some ways, it feels like I just got here yesterday. But at the same time, I feel like I’ve been here forever. Even though the campus is entirely new to me (as is the constant SoCal sunshine), it has a distinct homey-ness to it that, until just now, I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
No matter how much you may try to distract yourself from it, let’s face it: the first few weeks of freshman year can be lonely. You go from being surrounded by entirely familiar people at home to entirely new people in college. At a place like Pomona, which isn’t a large state university that has a lot of feeder high schools, this is especially true. Most people come here without knowing anyone else, other than meeting them at regional admitted student meetups.
So, how does this play into the homey-ness I talked about earlier? Well, as I said, I’ve been here a month, and countless times I’ve headed to the dining hall alone, armed with a reusable Tupperware container in my backpack (+1 for the 5Cs, these are only $1 at every dining hall) in case I don’t see anyone I know. Even though Pomona is relatively small, there are still about 6,000 possible students that could be eating at any different dining hall at the 5Cs at any given time. But, I’ve hardly ever had to use my container. Nearly every time I’ve gone to the dining hall, I’ve seen more than one person that I know and feel completely comfortable with.
I owe this unlikely turn of events to how Pomona thoughtfully creates multiple ways to make friends in smaller groups. The first thing you do when you get on Pomona’s campus is meet your sponsors and your sponsor group, both of which are hand-selected by head sponsors (older students who were sponsors in the past). These are your first automatic friends.
Then, after a day or two, you leave for OA (Orientation Adventure), where you meet friend group #2 (and sometimes a bonus group, if you’re OA is big enough that you’re also part of a smaller subsection). One of the best parts about OA trips are OA leaders, who could not possibly be more excited about leading the OA trip.
Now, all of these people could’ve just as easily stopped talking to me after OA ended or after people started to get busy with classes and stuff, but that wasn’t the case at all. Each and every one of my OA leaders smiles and says hi whenever I pass them, and my sponsors have all been nothing but friendly, helpful, supportive, and fun. I regularly spend time with my sponsor group and my OA group and I know that at least some of them are going to be close friends for the next few years.
Basically, this is a long-winded way of saying that Pomona’s homey vibe comes from the automatic familiar-ness, something that’s simultaneously entirely random and completely engineered by the college at the same time. So far, this is reason #1 that I love Pomona. And every week, I plan on adding something to this list on this blog, one amazing aspect of Pomona at a time 🙂