As The New School Year Approaches, I’m Reminiscing Back To My First Semester Of College
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As The New School Year Approaches, I’m Reminiscing Back To My First Semester Of College

Because there's nothing like the nostalgia of freshman year.

As The New School Year Approaches, I’m Reminiscing Back To My First Semester Of College
Jessica Shih

Last fall, I spent my first semester of college abroad in New Zealand with a group of other freshmen from my university. Through this group of people (dubbed the "Auckland World Scholars"), I gained new friends, experiences and stories. Below is just one of many culminations of the three: a bittersweet moment that has come and gone, but in its brief time, was filled with adventure and laughter.

It's late October in the Southern Hemisphere, and for New Zealanders, this means the onset of tropical temperatures.

But warm weather isn't only what's in season.

Final exam season has arrived, and with less than a month before the Auckland World Scholars conclude their study abroad semester, they'd love nothing more than to spend their remaining days outdoors experiencing as much adventure as time permits.

And especially since it's springtime, thoughts of swimming at the city's beaches and tramping—the Kiwi term for "hiking"—through the mountainous South Island seem all the more alluring.

But so long as exams exist, students cannot treat the rest of the semester as an island vacation.

While there appears to be no avail for the Auckland World Scholars, what many don't know is that this particular bunch will always find a way to celebrate their last hurrah, even within the confines of campus.

For instance, one groupmate decided to host an end-of-the-semester, no-discussion-of-academics-allowed sleepover and invite four others (including me) using The Office-themed invitations. Each depicted an image of Dwight Schrute and Gabe Lewis dishing dirt about their coworkers over the phone, as evidenced by the caption, "We gossiped all night!".

And that's all well and funny, but when there are five adults trying to get comfy for the night in a studio-sized dorm, my sense of humor doesn't extend quite that far.

Maybe I'm just a recluse, but I opted out of staying over. Everyone else seemed more adaptive to this environment, so I watched them squabble over their makeshift beds for the night: who'd stake their claim atop the desk, who'd claim the space underneath it, who'd remain underneath the bed (mind you, there's only about one foot between the bedframe and the ground), and who'd sleep on the floor between said desk and bed.

Basically, everyone was too humble to admit they wanted to sleep in the actual bed. It was a glorious time to be a spectator.

To make up for not sleeping over, I bought everyone a Japanese fluffy cheesecake. With the other festivities going on—the sleeping situation, the additional snacks and the musical-style film we whisper-sang the song numbers to (there's currently an excessive noise ban in effect since everyone's studying for exams)—it laid forgotten in the fridge.

Luckily, we remembered the next evening, so we held an impromptu dessert time in our building's common area. Due to the noise ban, we hand-signalled to figure out how to cut the cheesecake into fifths, one for each of us.

Unfortunately, we ended up with eight slices instead of the aspired five.

We stifled our laughter since there were others studying around us, but we still got odd looks. And who wouldn't, especially when they're witnessing five adults huddled on the communal couch at 7:30 p.m., doubled over in breathless laughter as they hold a wackily-cut cheesecake?

It was a surreal moment, but it took our minds off of the looming exams. Plus, it's cheesecake; no matter how much you botch the slicing process, you can't just turn down something that delicious.

So although the Auckland World Scholars have been living up to their "Scholar" title in recent weeks, they'll leave behind a refreshing legacy of how they maintained optimism and (most of) their integrity during academically trying times. And in some ways, to remind themselves to, well, be themselves in the face of exam season is an even more fulfilling journey than imaginable.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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