It was a Thursday afternoon and I was driving home from La Jolla to Chula Vista in the heart of rush hour. I had just gotten out of my Communication and Urban Planning class. I plugged in the aux cord and tried my best to chill, hoping I’d move at least a couple of inches before the car next to me tried cutting me off.
I must have turned away for less than a second when traffic moved in the slightest and the guy next to me sped in front of me. That was the trigger. That’s all it took. I broke down in tears in the middle of I-5 South, sun straight in my eyes, hands on the wheel, snot running down my
nose, and mascara streaming down my face. And of course, as I look to my left, the hot guy in the car next to me had a look on his face that you wouldn't believe. To that man, I apologize.
To be absolutely honest with you, I don’t entirely know what came over me. What I do know is that I was in the middle of my junior year at UCSD and that classes were getting extremely difficult. My routine was becoming monotonous and work was getting boring. I was still living with my mom (whom I absolutely love and adore) and it was just getting boring, you know? I was in a slump that I felt only I knew. It was a slump that I believed no one had experienced before. The self pity quickly turned into something else all together.
After I gave myself time to cry, my meltdown stopped. I realized that I needed something different. A type of change that was frightening but completely necessary. In that moment I decided to leave. Go as far as I could for as long as I could. Having lived in San Diego my entire life, I realized that if I truly wanted some kind of alternative and a different sense of independence, then leaving the country was the way to do it. That night I sat in my bed and looked up programs and one of the first to pop us was Santiago, Chile. A six month study abroad trip 6,000 miles away. Perfect.
Fast forward 10 months later (since that awkward experience in the car) and I am writing to you all from my apartment in the heart of downtown Santiago. Are my classes still difficult? Yes. Am I still scared? Yes. Do I know what I’m doing? No. Do I regret moving 6,000 miles away for half a year? Absolutely not.
The truth is I am still a struggling college student. I was you, the HTHCV senior reading this and applying to university. I was you, the newbie college freshman scrambling to cram for exams and struggling to wake up for 8 am courses. I was you, the sophomores and juniors who are finally understanding the rhythm of things and are getting ahead in their academic careers. And now I am you, the senior who is getting closer to graduation and in truth, closer to a life of true independence.
You, as a student and ultimately as a person, have every right to feel the way you do. Let yourself be nervous about college apps, let yourself be scared about exams, indulge and be selfish with the free food and the parties, and essentially let yourself be in tune with your feelings. No one is expecting you to be perfect, and nobody wants you to fail. You are not the only person going through what you’re going through. The girl sitting next to you in class probably hasn’t started her essay due tomorrow either. The guy who you think is always taking notes is probably on Facebook just like you. And the person whom you believe has everything in their life together is probably facing a struggle that you don’t even know.
Your college experience is yours. No one can take that away from you. Know that and own it. Be proud of who you are, what you do, and what you’ve done. What you’re worrying about today will not matter a week or month from now. Understand that there will be hiccups. Accept them and move forward. You made it this far. Be proud of yourself and do not look back.
I am excited for you to ugly cry in the middle of traffic. I am excited for you to see that first "A" on a paper. I am excited for you to meet people from all around the world. I am excited for you to struggle. But I am mostly excited for you to succeed.
Your college experience is your own. Love it because it’s yours. Mine lead me to the other side of the world. Where will your experience lead you?