Freshmen were easy to spot today at the University of Colorado at Boulder's campus — they were the ones clutching maps and streaming in to the CU Book Store to buy armfuls of books and grab last-minute supplies. 

“I'm looking forward to everything, to living on my own, to gaining that independence,” said Holli Williamson, a freshman from Arizona who spent the day finding the locations of all her classes and buying books.

Thousands of CU students return to campus Monday for the first day of the fall semester.

Sean Donahoe, a freshman computer science major, spent his last day before classes getting in a marathon video game session with friends, biking around campus to get familiar with the layout and “trying on lots of fun hats” at the CU book Store.

Friend and fellow freshman Peter Brunsgaard, a mechanical engineering major, said he's looking forward to both more freedom and the responsibility that comes with being in college.

“It's exciting,” he said.

While freshmen were focused on finding their classes and meeting new people, returning students could afford to be more relaxed. Reconnecting with friends was top on the agenda for many.

Seniors Anna Walters and Ava Yasmineh celebrated their last day before the fall semester with drinks after a day of “bumming around.”

Walters, an economics major, said she's in denial that school is starting.

“I haven't looked at my schedule or bought books,” she said.

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Still, she said, she's in no hurry to graduate.

“If I could switch places with my freshman self, I would,” she said. “I wouldn't change anything. I just want to do it all again.”

Senior geology major Mark Dennis, who's planning to graduate in December, went tubing on Boulder Creek  and then to University Hill for beers with friends who already graduated.

“All the new students need to know are the mountains are west,” he said. “You can find anything if you know that.”

In the last week, new students attended orientation sessions that covered the details of class registration, policies and student services at each college. CU also provided a welcome convocation, a Folsom Field pep rally and a “Global Jam” international food and music fest.

Freshman Maximilian Zim said orientation was intense, making today his first day to really relax.

“I'm trying to get my mind back into being ready for school,” he said. “I have to be on my game. I want to get off the wait list and get into different classes.”