New beginnings are tough. Leaving home to begin life at a university can be especially difficult, because it means you are embarking on a new chapter in your life without the comforts and people who make it “home.”

Yes, college can be overwhelming and homesickness is bound to kick in at some point, but despite the inevitable changes Gonzaga does an exceptional job of making freshmen feel welcome. 

The First Year Experience (FYE) at GU helps students transition into life on- and off-campus. The program is designed to be a resource for students who need information or assistance navigating life in Spokane.

FYE is just the tip of the iceberg though. There are a multitude of other activities, events and university staples that make GU such a great second home.

If you are looking for a way to meet and connect with fellow freshmen, you can participate in the Freshman Games, Spike Nights, the club fair and dorm block parties. 

Freshman Games are part of the intramural sports program and are exclusive to freshmen. They are a great way to meet new people and bond with teammates. Even if you are not athletic or competitive, it provides the opportunity to be active and have fun while doing so. You may even discover you have a passion for innertube basketball! 

Spike Nights take place in the Hemmingson Center on Friday and Saturday nights and feature unique activities ranging from painting classes to karaoke. 

In the basement of Hemmingson, there are also blockbuster movies played on Friday and Saturday nights. 

The  club fair at GU takes place in Bulldog Alley. If you are walking to class during this event, you will surely be drawn into a few different club booths. 

Dorm block parties occur throughout the school year and vary in activity. They are designed so students in neighboring dorms can meet each other and enjoy the provided entertainment with their friends. 

If you are looking to be more involved with the Jesuit side of campus, you can attend student Mass or involve yourself with Mission and Ministry. 

Student Mass is at 8:30 p.m. on Sundays in the University Chapel, located inside College Hall. This unique Mass is great for busy schedules and it allows students to be surrounded by peers who share common values. 

The Mission and Ministry team on campus facilitates retreats, pilgrimages and on-campus events for students who wish to be involved with a community of faith.

If you are looking to take in the sights on campus with your fellow Zags, you can walk down Bulldog Alley, listen to DJ Desmet, grab a bite at Zaggin’ Wagon or sit outside on the Herak or Foley lawns.  

Sunny days on campus are beautiful. It seems as though everybody is outside when the weather is nice. In fact, it is not uncommon to see the Foley and Herak lawns full of sunbathing students. 

If you are looking to feel the Zag school spirit firsthand, you can join Kennel Club, attend any sporting event on campus, tent for a basketball game or proudly wear your Zag gear.

Experiencing a basketball game from the Kennel is unlike any other sporting experience. 

When the bleachers begin to shake during “Zombie Nation,” you realize you are in the midst of something very special, a tradition that is like GU’s own form of initiation for Zags. 

It may take a while to feel comfortable on campus, but remember to have an open mind, try new things and realize there is a community on campus who is so excited to have you at GU.

Home is a place where one lives, and in that sense, GU will become your home during your time as a student. However, GU can be more than a home. It is a community full of love and pride. Once you feel what it means to be a Zag, you will know that you are home in every sense of the word. 

Sidney Jones is a staff writer.