College is a coming of age: you experience things you never thought you would (and probably wish you hadn’t), stay awake finishing up papers until the Sun comes back up, and rethink your major and career plans more often than you – or your parents – would like to admit. You will meet people who you love, and others whom you love to hate. You will have professors who are more like parents to you than they are pedagogues. And you will have professors who are more like Cinderella’s step-mom.
But for every one of the aforementioned major events you will encounter in your first semester of college, there will be countless “less important”, minor events that will be much more important in the long run. The conversation you have with your roommate about being uncertain about your career plans will unequivocally be more productive than the one you will have with an “advisor”, to whom you are no more than an I.D. number in all likelihood. The all-nighter you pull as a result of such a conversation will also be of far more significance than the one you pull before your Physics final. And you will remember the advice your favorite professor gives you long after you forget the material she taught.
My first semester was full of all of the above; none of the above do I relate to more than the “rethinking your major part”. I came into college thinking I was relatively mature for my age. “I wouldn’t go through a crisis – I’m above that!”, I believed. But lo and behold, a crisis came, and another one, and another one, and another one(DJ Khaled voice). But I can honestly say that I’m much better for it. Yes, I changed my major, but I finally enjoy my studies and am working hard to make my career goals a reality. Yes, I struggled in the beginning academically, but I performed better at the end of the semester than I ever have. Yes, I have strained old relationships due to my volatility during this semester, but I have also forged friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime.
I came into my first semester unsure about my future plans. On my dossier, it said I was a biomedical engineering major. My dreams were filled with developing the next breakthrough in biomedical technology: a cure for HIV/AIDS, maybe even the cure for cancer. And while my interest in these topics will always remain, my fervor to pursue them waned throughout my first semester. The dreams that were once commonplace became more and more distant, replaced with a renewed angst to discover what it really was that I wanted to do with my life.
I came out of my first semester still unsure about my future plans. On my dossier, it now says I am a political science/ economics dual major. Now, my dreams are filled with solving the world’s biggest conflicts: the rise of radical extremism, maybe even the Israel – Palestine dispute. And while these interests have always appealed to me, my fervor to pursue them has heightened upon the introspection that was necessary following my decision to no longer follow a biomedical engineering track. The dreams that were once distant – of being a diplomat, or maybe even a Congressman- have become more and more commonplace, replacing the angst to discover what it really was that I wanted to do with my life.
Perhaps at the end of next semester, the fervor will fade, the angst will renew, and the introspection will begin once again. The most important thing I have learned in my first semester is to never speak in definite terms; if we cannot say definitely that we will be alive in 10 years, how can we say definitely that we will become (insert profession here)? What I can say, in no uncertain terms, is that my first semester has left an indelible impact on me – for better or for worse.
And so, one semester is in the books. Here’s to the next 7.