An open letter to my first year of college + PLAYLIST

Dear first year,

Last night was the final night of my first year of college. I tend to stay up late on occasions like these, because I realize that after today, nothing will be ever be the same.

About the future, I am both scared and excited. I have as many dreams, goals and aspirations as I have doubts and worries.

I feel a sense of urgency in understanding that I will not see some of my best friends for 10 weeks. The urgency deepens when I realize that living arrangements are shifting, and that many friendships that began out of convenience and proximity, but out of which grew strong and genuine relationships, will be put to the test.

Is one year or less enough to ground a strong foundation for a friendship or relationship?

Romances that kindle at the end of the school year always also carry an intense sense of urgency. It’s as if you and another seem to have finally crossed paths, when the summer brings along the greatest challenge to ever face up to a young blooming relationship: change.

Every hour is precious and feels like it should be spent between you and your new suspected love, charging your memories so that they may last you a whole summer.

In some instances, friendships are strengthened, as people are more likely to reach out to each other to schedule that final dinner that will let you end the year with a bang, and get in a proper goodbye.

In other instances, when you try to reach out to someone, you might find out that they actually left campus last week.

Earlier in the year, it felt like everyone was asking: what are you planning to study? In recent weeks, the question seems to have morphed into: are you excited for summer?

I don’t know, you reply, certain that you miss your mom’s cooking and your bed and your hometown, but equally appreciative of the way your first year experience turned out.

Through late weekend nights, food excavations, unforgettable concert experiences and trips to the city, my freshman year was defined by a tendency to say yes to new things, a gentle nudge to make friends, and a quest to become more confident and happy with myself than I’ve ever been.

With these precious moments slipping away, and with the realization that your freshman year may come to be defined by the direction of your final nights on campus, you wish to forget meaningless grudges, to hasten to forgive and forget, and to resolve issues. You wouldn’t want them to fester over the summer.

In these final days, you reach around for things that you’ve already packed away. In the final moments when you’re heading out the door, you turn back and look once more at what was once your haven for months. For some, their room was the place to retreat when they got fed up with all things college. You wouldn’t feel obligated to be anyone but yourself, and you could easily hide in there watching episodes of Law & Order: SVU all night if you wanted to.

To see this space barren and plain makes you wonder if you ever made any lasting impact on this place, and these people. It feels like you were never there in the first place.

I’m sad to say goodbye to my room, in the corner of the campus’s most “social” dorm, and the lounge where I would play video games for hours.


If my freshman year could be summed up in a playlist…

One comment

  1. Pingback: Introducing my new series: “Sophomore Spotlight” | Catherine Zhang

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