Q: How was life in college like?

So I’ve been a slacker lately. In my defense, my work got a little intense so everytime I find time on weekends, I kinda want to just do nothing. Which is exactly what it sounds like – I’d just sprawl myself comfortably on the sofa and read nonsense, or stare into space. Kinda regret it now cos I feel like I’m just wasting my time away! At least if I had spared 1 hour to blog, the post would be at least more immortalized then me wasting time reading stuff on elitedaily.

Anyway, thank you Tina for suggesting this topic. I was thinking quite hard on what to blog about, and since I talk about my daily life on my dayre, I don’t feel like repeating them again here. So the question was: Could you tell us how life was like in college?

To my older readers, you probably would know quite a bit since I blogged quite religiously throughout my 4 years in college. But I thought it’d be quite interesting for me to reflect on this question now, almost 4 years after I’ve graduated.

In a nutshell, college was a bittersweet time for me. I’m a little conflicted about my experience actually cos I know I was quite miserable at times, but in retrospect, I did have a great time as well. I think my blog portrayed more of the happy side of things, so I’m going to share more about what it was actually like.

1. I had a hard time fitting in

I had gone to a public school in Malaysia all my life, and in addition to that, I only learnt to speak English when I moved to KL when I was 11. So although I was fairly confident with my written English, I only got to know the extent of how horrible my spoken English was in my first year. On top of everything, I had such a hard time articulating my thoughts, what more have opinions on things. (Opinions? What’s that??)

I remember my first ever class and we were asked to read a few books beforehand. In class, suddenly everyone was talking about what they felt about the readings. I was going to say how much I liked the book, but then I realized everyone had such deep things to say! They were so critical and analytical, and I could hardly keep up. I spent the rest of the semester barely saying anything. Even when I did speak, I was so self-conscious of my accent and how I was pronouncing things wrong, that I could hardly form proper sentences in my head.

That was just in class, I had an even harder time trying to fit in socially. Thank god I knew Audrey and I was close to her and Angie in my first year, so I didn’t feel that bad.

10398727_12676470105_4367_n
Sorry Aud, I messed up your eye makeup, now you look like a raccoon hahaha

But imagine this, I was incredibly social in Malaysia and I never had to be alone. It was in college that I spent so much time on my own (which probably aided in my self-development thankfully) and had to be very self-reliant.

 

2. I had to work so much harder to prove myself

Following from point 1, I had to be a lot more hardworking in college. All through out my life prior to that, I was a straight As student. It wasn’t easy, but it was nothing compared to college. Because I wasn’t participating much in class discussions, I had to work ten times harder in my other assignments. I had to start writing papers way before the deadline to make sure I get an A and I had to see my professors one-on-one just so they know I care about the class. All this resulted in my good grades in college, but at the expense of my social life.

224979_10150573154005106_5857676_n
nth night at the library, writing papers after papers

I was also always working different part-time jobs just so I have enough money to go out with friends/save up to come back home in summers. Cleaning dishes, running after balls during sport games, clearing trash, cleaning floors etc. For some reason I was always doing blue-collar jobs wtf

1

 Just keep washing..just keep washing

 

3. I went through bouts of depression

Of course this is something I never talked about with anyone or on my blog, but it was so long ago and since I’m already talking about college so might as well.

It was hard when Audrey and Angie graduated after my first year, and I realized then that shit, I hadn’t actually made a lot of friends besides them. Shanshan, my only other good friend, had to take the semester off cos she had a benign tumor and had to go through surgery and recovery.

I spent a lot of my time alone that year, seeking solace in my computer cos that was the only form of social life I had. I blogged a lot, talked online to my friends back home, watched tons of korean drama while eating lunch AND dinner alone wtf. I really saw my blog as my main refuge and source of joy cos that was where I had acceptance and recognition. Haha writing it out now made it sound so pathetic, but I guess there’s nothing to be ashamed of cos it got me through tough times.

But thankfully, I got over it a little bit and did make a few more good friends after that. Shanshan was also around in my senior year, along with Giang and Lali so I had a really good senior year!

227603_10150580027125106_205776_n
Shanshan, the most beautiful person I know inside and outside

61839_1529838600411_1068090047_1555798_620097_n
Giang, who taught me self-independence and reliance

Photo on 2010-09-16 at 21.35 #3
Lali, who constantly challenged me on who I want to be and can be. I owe a lot of my self-realization to her.

 

4. I learned the most valuable lesson in life

Don’t get me wrong, despite a lot of the setbacks in college, I never regretted going to Mt Holyoke. It was there that I learned the most important lesson in my life: that the pursuit of knowledge is life-long.

Coming from a very rigid education system, I never saw learning for the sake of learning before. It was always for a certain reason; learn to get As, to do well in exams, to get a good jobs, always in that order. It was in college that I was challenged in the way I thought and perceived the world around me. My professors and college mates inspired me tremendously to constantly outperform what I thought I could achieve, and ultimately showed me the beauty of constantly learning about the different things in life.

In fact, in one of my FAV professors’ (Jim Hartley) parting speech to us, he said:

“Look at the person on your left, and the person on your right. In a hundred years, they will both be dead. (dramatic pause) We spend our lives worrying about things that are in the present, things that are transitory and are insignificant in the greater scheme of things.
From henceforth, spend your life thinking about things that are eternal, not temporary. Spend your life thinking about things that will matter 100 years from today, things that mattered 100 years ago and will continue to be important.

Your education has not ended, in fact it starts right after your graduation. Think about the everlasting effect of your existence, read the great books, read because it matters. Your education starts when you start learning about stuff because it matters, and the only questions that should matter are why are you here? what’s the purpose of your life?”

These powerful words got me back to Malaysia, got me into Teach For Malaysia and got me to where I am today, 4 years later. As I continue on my perpetual soul-searching journey, I’m glad I’m always reminded of all the great things I’ve learned in college.

I wouldn’t have been half the person I am today if it wasn’t for Mt Holyoke and TFM.

So…I guess all in all, college was an interesting point in my life. I became a completely different person after that, in both good and and not so good ways.

I became a lot more “intellectual” for lack of a better word, and started having more opinions about everything around me. I started developing my own stances on things, and thought a lot more about the meaning of my existence and the legacy I want to leave behind. Things that I’ve never been pushed to think about before.

But I also became a lot more reserved and less idealistic, took off my rose-tinted glasses and became more pragmatic. Maybe it’s about growing up too, but my moments alone pushed me to be more melancholic and solemn as well.

So yeah, sorry for the long answer to a simple question, but there you go!