On August 10th, I decided to venture to a place with no lights for the first time in my life to check out the beginning of the Perseid Meteor Shower. My friend and I endured a two-hour drive from a Los Angeles suburb to Joshua Tree National Park. We stepped outside the car after our long journey, looked up, and tried to catch our breath. Coming from a place where light pollution is inescapable, we always thought “the night sky” portrayed by Hollywood films was impossible. Boy, were we wrong.
After seeing numerous shooting stars (and making wishes), I began to think about my college choice. “Wow, I turned down so many nice schools in California for a school in Maine.” Before this experience, I was extremely frightful of going to a new place, especially a school that was the furthest away out of my 18 acceptances. Southern California is a place with no seasons and sunshine about 300 days a year. I have never seen falling snow before in my life; the only place I have been that was below freezing is my freezer.
But then, I remembered why I choose to go to this college. All of my life, I have challenged myself to do things that are outside my comfort zone – from joining a sport, to doing a solo fundraiser for Haiti earthquake relief, to tackling interviews as a high school freshman, all the way to writing for an educational website when I have never done anything related to journalism. I have learned that by placing yourself outside your comfort zone, you are ultimately learning life skills. You will learn to adapt, and embody the fact that there really are many more things in the world to see, experience, and learn.
So what does this have to do with anything? As a word of advice, I want to encourage everyone to keep their options open. Apply to colleges all over the place, because you never know where it can take you.
“Why Maine?” People from my area would always ask this question. I chose my college because while it is totally different from what I am used to, just like the shooting stars: you never really know what is out there until you take a try for yourself. Back in March, when I got the opportunity to visit the campus, I knew that this was going to be something new, fresh, and a four-year break from my same old, same old Southern California lifestyle. I tell myself now that I probably will never live in Maine again after this, but I am willing to take this adventure as it comes.
I pondered the long winters, seeing snow for the first time, and then I finally remembered that a majority of students in my school’s Class of 2017 come from many different places in the world (my roommate is from Lithuania). We will all be in this together. While I knew I would be uncomfortable being an Asian-American on a campus that is about 80% Caucasian (website pictures always lie), I also knew that I could be part of the solution and not the problem by helping the college reaffirm its commitment to diversity. I mean, it would be unreasonable to expect it to mirror the treasure trove of diversity back in the Golden State of California.
This year will be especially groundbreaking for me. I plan on joining the school orchestra and wind ensemble, being a role model in Colby Cares About Kids, staying healthy with intramural sports, participating in discussions to foster greater acknowledgement of issues concerning diversity (or the lack of it), and making a trip to India to study and break down the social and cultural differences that exist there. Yes, it is possible to do this all in your first year.
As I prepare to leave my comfortable home to settle in another, I have no more feelings of fear. Rather, it is 100% excitement for what my groundbreaking year will do. I know that this experience will build me up as a person as long as I keep on seeking positive opportunities and am willing to try something new.
On August 23, 2013, I will begin my journey in Waterville, Maine. I really hope I enjoy having “seasons” for the first time in my life.