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December was a roller coaster of emotions.

It started with me scrambling to pull my (much neglected) grades up while balancing college apps, my research (nine hours per week may seem easy, but not when you have to transport proteins back and forth labs in the cold every few days), sleep, and the occasional exercises. My life wasn’t really in order.

I wanted nothing but to crawl into a hole and watch Heroes, which I unashamedly watched all four seasons during the late November/early December. It was awful facing all that responsibility and not having the willpower to do anything about it. Uncertainty was drowning me, too, I was going to hear back from my early action colleges and for the first time in my life, I could hardly sleep.

It was December 2nd when I was wolfing down Panda Express for lunch after some lab work (I had gone to my lab during my lunch to finish some time-sensitive experiments… Thank goodness for open-campus lunches.) and I received a rather good/ominous message from my fortune cookie:


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Huh. What does that mean? I shoved the slip into my pocket and didn’t think much of it. I could be a bit superstitious at times, but that message was probably just something Panda Express sneak in to get more people to buy their food. It wasn’t until later that I realized how accurate the prediction was.

When the first weekend of December rolled by, I was getting a bit desperate. I didn’t study for any of my finals yet (and I am taking some seriously challenging classes this year), I was not quite done with my English term paper, and I had to go to my state school for an interviewing weekend. Oh yeah, by the way, EA decisions was coming out in like a week.

Friday was trying to piece my term paper in a sort of coherent form, Saturday was spent entirely for interviewing and getting to know my state school, Sunday afternoon was when I get home, utterly exhausted, but having to force myself to type the last pages of my ten-page thesis-like paper on 1984. I was so tired that I kept typing 1989 because I was jamming to Taylor Swift to keep me awake. Monday rolled around, and I had to drag my butt out of the bed at 6 to work in the lab for three hours before getting to school and start a week of panicking and anxiousness in between studying for finals and figuring out what to do with my life.

I take 'reorganize your 1984 essay' very seriously. PS. There's about 1984 words in this post.

I take ‘reorganize your 1984 essay’ very seriously.

The week leading up to my Early Action decisions (MIT and Caltech on Saturday and UChicago on Wednesday after that) went by agonizingly slow. Reflecting now, it seemed all a blur to me. But then, it was finishing up on my experiments and making a PowerPoint last minute for my research class, analyzing Light in August in English as I frantically try to complete my reading assignments every night, trying to understand Multivariable Calculus (guess what class I’ll definitely retake in college? Yeah, this one, just so I actually understand the material for real before progressing on my academic career.) fruitlessly, and of course, going on tumblr, fanfiction.net, and anywhere else to take my mind off what happens that weekend–

Saturday finally rolled around.

Dad woke me up in the morning at around ten. I protested. I vaguely remembered waving him off, saying, “I’m not going to wake up until two. I can’t I can’t–” I was cut off because he pulled off my blanket and it was oh-so-cold and I really couldn’t sleep another hour anymore. In fact, for the first time in my life, I sort of had insomnia.

The four hours leading to IT was torturous. I didn’t have any homework since finals start Monday, but I couldn’t study at all. Concentration was nigh impossible. I sent off my lab report–phew, and concluded my Purdue course, Chemical Engineering 41100. I typed out a response for my school’s Yearbook interview on My Life as a StuCo President. Feeling very pretentious, I sat down and just read for a while. I did mean to read The Blood of Olympus since October, afterall.

1:56 pm rolled around. I took my laptop and sat on the couch in the living room. On my right, I could see the outside where everything was so quiet, as if the nature was holding its breath in anticipation for me. I should probably be less dramatic, but at that moment all I could do was to just glare at the Caltech’s admission portal. I logged in. Nothing. It was 2:00 pm yet. I couldn’t believe they actually kept the time that well.

The clock chimed for two o’clock, but I read 1:58 pm on my laptop. Dang it. I should adjust the clock’s actual time after this ends. I breathed in, breathed out. This is it. (Also, at this time, I opened up Photo Booth, meaning to do a reaction video. However, I was a mess in said video and I’m too embarrassed to post it. Maybe you can experience it in what you’re about to read?)

2:00 pm. I clicked ‘Login’–Application Status for… Status Update, click to view update…

I clicked. There was a millisecond of terror that flashed through my mind. And then– Congratulations! It is an honor…
I screamed. (Later, my dad noted that it sounded like a mix of a wailing whale and a strangled laughter. Thanks, dad.) My dad ran out, and I said “I got in! I got in, oh my god, I got in.” He hugged me and well, I sobbed in relief on his shoulder because I got in after all this hard work and I’m going to college oh my god how did this happen I should call mom I can’t even process let me check the letter again what if they made a mistake–

I kept crying. Oh man, I told myself before hand that no matter what, I was going to be mature and handle the decision like an adult. But I lost it then and there. I can’t believe that happened to me. I certainly worked hard, but I never thought that I would be able to beat the odds. I did it.

Dad called mom after half an hour. (Yes, it took that long for me to calm down and for dad to be able to call without me breaking in tears.) It was a bit more before mom came back with my siblings, them still not knowing what’s really happening. Dad’s gushing about Caltech with mom, but my mom doesn’t really know what the college is. Nevertheless, everyone is ecstatic that I’m going to one of my top schools.

The plot twist comes 76 minutes after 2:00 pm. MIT’s decision is on 12/13/14, 15:16 EST. Every year they play some sort of number games, it’s one of the (many) quirks I love about the ‘tute. If you recall, MIT’s one of my top choices, too. I told myself that I would be happy no matter what, that it’s okay now, I did it, and I should be satisfied with what I have no matter what. I was still nervous, but the anxiety got a whole lot better post Caltech decisions.

My family all sat on the floor by the couch, waiting the time to tick by. It was a short wait, since we only get settled down around three. I went on Facebook, trying to see if anyone from my school got into Caltech, and if any of my acquaintances outside of school did. I posted a super excited status about my admission, and then wondered to mit.admissions.org/blogs. It’s one of my favorite places to be. (I can write a whole post on it, not here, though, I’m already at 1.3k and you’re probably getting bored.)

3:16 pm. I clicked ‘Display Decision’ and I knew there’s no going back. For a terrifying second… Two seconds… Ten seconds…

“How’d it go?” My brother asked.

“Error.” I muttered, refreshing the page like crazy. That was even more anticlimactic than anything I have expected. I waited about 17 seconds, logged off the page, closed it, logged on again, and finally, a letter appeared instead of the ‘Error’ page.

On behalf of the admissions committee–oh no there’s no ‘Congratulations!’, they’re gonna say thank you for applying and yada yada you’re rejected, or at best deferred–it is my pleasure–wait, hold up!–to offer you admission to the MIT Class of 2019…

What?!

Wait, I just got admitted? To MIT? I just got adMITted?

My dad and sister were sitting besides me and they both cheered, and I did, too. I got teary eyed again, heh. My brother waved around his wooden sword in celebration (and got a bit jealous that I was hoarding all the attention from mom and dad), and mom started making plans of what she would do in Boston when she visits me. Oh man, I was so happy. Thanks, fortune cookie.

We went to my favorite Thai restaurant that night, and frankly, I couldn’t concentrate or do anything besides going to the admitted student group to get to know everyone, and envision my life at either one of schools. Was that what dreams feel like?

We called the whole family (which is impressive, considering more than half are an ocean away), and actually read the admission letters after we calm down. I didn’t really pay attention when I found out initially. It was the most surreal thing ever. The satisfaction, knowing that everything paid off in the end, was endless. Yeah, admissions are not an end-all (and it never was for me), but getting the recognition and the opportunity to pursue what I love was seriously the best.

My MIT Tube and some of its contents.

My MIT Tube and some of its contents.

The rest of the month was still eventful, but not as much. On Sunday, I was called to notify that I was awarded the full ride scholarship to my state school on top of a 10k living stipend. Oh man. On Monday, I more or less bombed my finals (I more or less bombed all my finals that week, actually. Which made me really really concerned about getting rescinded, until a friend made me realize how a B is not the end of the world. I get paranoid, as you probably realized, a lot.) but I was interviewed by the newspaper for a community event. On Tuesday, I was given a national award, though I nearly cried for my sorry excuse of a math final. On Wednesday, I got in UChicago. On Friday, I somehow concluded my first semester senior year and also got in UMichigan. By that point, I was pretty sure that I was just dreaming.
That fortune cookie was magical, if anything.

A very gratifying Congratulations from UChicago. (I heard that they get EA applicants scarves later this month? We'll see.)

A very gratifying Congratulations from UChicago. (I heard that they get EA admits scarves later this month? We’ll see.)

In comparison, the last ten days of December was anything but exciting. I still didn’t get back my first semester grades, which gives me some serious cases of worrying on top of a raging imposter syndrome. I visited some family for Christmas, and spent much more time than I should on social media. I updated my fanfictions, and ogled at some pretty gifs from the movie Interstellar. And oh yeah, I submitted my last college applications to the remaining two colleges that I might (depending on financial aid and gut feelings) go instead of my early action schools. Now I am suffering from a serious stomach ache because I ate too much when my family and I visited Chicago last night. Ow.

December wasn’t particularly a bad month or a good month, but like the cookie said, it was a month through of surprises. Amazing surprises when everything seemed so bleak and I had next to no hope left. Some things may not be in your favor (like getting a parking ticket or cracking my phone’s screen or nearly losing my dad’s car keys) but oh man, things do work out, afterall.

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the author

Laan (Rainbow) Yeung is a senior in West Lafayette Senior High School and she aspires to be an awesome scientist. She's quite intense at times and she has no idea which scientific discipline she's interested to go into in the future, but she'll totally chill with you as long as you have a pint of cookies and cream ice-cream and a few seasons of Doctor Who on hand. Oh, and you can reach her at lookingforadmissions.tumblr.com or laan.yeung@gmail.com.

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