Dear no one,

I remember as Dad's car pulled into campus, stopping in front of the building that I would be calling home for the next year. It was torture having to move heavy bins and unpack basically my entire wardrobe in the midst of summer's heat, not to mention that I had no air conditioning in my dorm. Even the 90-degree weather wasn't able to vaporize the tears that left my eyes as I watched my parents' departure.

Being surrounded by older college students felt novel to me. It was as if my high school seniority had been stripped away prematurely from me. I was scared to be so distant from home and so stranded from civilization, but looking back to that very first day, I realize how far I've come. I've learned to live beyond the realm of academia; beyond the reading assignments, lab exercises, and review sessions. Stepping outside of my comfort zone (as cliche as that is) and putting my academics aside (briefly) is by far the best thing that I've motivated myself to do.

As a representative for one of the cultural organizations on campus, I had the chance to lead small and large events and to meet all of the different kinds of people who attended. As part of what we call a "family system" in another organization, I was able to grow closer to my fam members through weekly challenges and horror movie nights. Going to the dining hall for late night food such as buffalo wings, nachos, or mozzarella sticks and talking about who knows what for over two hours became a tradition for my friends and I after our midterms (even though I had an 8 AM class the next day).

Traveling to Washington D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival and to watch live cultural performances the weekend before my lab final and my job interview was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Studying with others during finals week (something that I tend to avoid because I cannot focus this way) allowed me to grow closer to my friends' friends who were initially acquaintances, and together, we emptied our already empty wallets for 1089 Noodle House takeout. A spontaneous decision to venture out to Port Jefferson for the first time allowed me to realize that I may not be as isolated as I thought and to see the life all around me — the rippling of water, the skipping of stones, the honking of the ferry, and the energy of the people.

There is so much more to college than sitting at your desk and sighing over your essay, hoping that it'll eventually write itself. People often say that pain is temporary and GPA is forever, and while I agree with that to a certain extent, your time in college isn't forever. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt, get out there, have some fun, and live your best life because it's your time here and now.

Sincerely,

Jessica Hui