As I walk into the airport, I’m finally realizing this is it. Freshman year is over. The next 2 years are still up, but to think I’ve completed a whole third of my college experience already is rather surreal. I gave myself a promise a few years ago – that when I go to college I will maximise my time here, to the point where I make others jealous. It’s changed slightly, I’ve dropped the whole ‘make others jealous’ part of it – but I still had the same vigor to it. I wasn’t going to let this time slip.
As expected, it took me a while to get used to the US College lifestyle, or even the US lifestyle as a whole. There were a lot of cultural differences, vocabulary deviations and overall novelty to everything here. I remember being surprised by the extreme binge drinking culture. I had to learn to be social while playing a game of beer pong.
I made tons of friends , because I had learnt to care about people and stories. Friends from truly all walks of life. I made brothers by joining a fraternity, another move that ranks as one of my best decisions in college thus far. I joined triathlon where I was given a space and family of sorts to exercise intensely with – unfortunately I phased out in Spring as I picked up more responsibilities. I stayed close to my roots to the newly renamed SingSoc, where I was allowed to be Singaporean without reservation. And probably one of my favorite student groups, Mayfest where we dared to dream and attempt to put on one of the biggest shows around. Mayfest became a real family close to the event, and I’ve always been grateful for the chance to dream big there.
College was meant to be a chance for me to make adventures and memories. I loved travelling and new people and cultures – and so coming to the US excited me. I had to balance that with the true purpose of college though – getting a degree and doing academically well. I had to take 5 courses every quarter, maintain a 3.8 GPA and I also wanted to try for the Kellogg Certificate. You would think that sounds crazy knowing my schedule but it definitely provided me the intensity I needed to stay on my game. I enjoyed learning so much so rapidly, and grew used to the pace.
I also kept to my pace of travelling by visiting as many states and cities as I could while I was in the US. I went to Detroit, a farm in Wisconsin, Ohio, Nashville, Florida (Daytona, Orlando, Tampa, PCB), Philly, San Francisco and few more probably. I also went to Eastern/Central Europe to hang out with Igor and other friends. That was real fun.
I wanted to try new things while I was here and I kept looking for opportunities to be engaged. I did a Hackathon, I went for dance and theatre performances, I followed football games and went to watch the Cavs against the Bulls in the Mad House. I took day trips to Chicago to see as much of the great city as possible, sometimes coming back early in the morning. Being 21 definitely made life a lot easier.
Sometimes I would wake up emotionally, physically and mentally drained but I’d always be satisfied with how the day had gone. I made a couple of mistakes this year, but I made sure to learn as much as I can. I eventually became comfortable with failing forward. There was no use worrying about the past when you can be changing the future.
I’m very satisfied with my freshman year. I came, I saw and I conquered (my ambitions).
Sophomore year is gonna be so much better.