Dear Fall Quarter Serena,
As the year wraps up, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection. Honestly, it’s one of my ways of pushing off the studying that must be done before finals, but let’s just agree that it’s a productive use of time. College has been everything you thought it would be for the most part, besides the fact that there was more late night snacking and opportunities to meet interesting people than you anticipated. You’ve learned a lot, improved in so many ways and tried things you never thought you would. And though all these experiences have been quite good for you, currently speaking, I really can’t wait to pack up, take a break from classes for a few months and join my friends already on vacation. As of now, I feel utterly over it all. Call me an introvert, but I truly can’t wait for the moment I get to be in my own room at home, in my non-creaky bed, and catch up on Netflix shows with my dog by my side. Anyways, before I get to experience the comfort of being home and officially finish my freshman year, I thought it would be a good idea to share what I’ve reflected upon up until now.
The most important lesson I think I’ve come to realize is that everything works itself out. Grades, social conflicts, club issues — they all don’t matter as much as you think they do in the moment. For example, in terms of academics, I’ve learned that classes are truly an opportunity for you to learn for yourself and not anyone else; you will eventually get what you put into each class in terms of effort and time. Seriously, it’s not like high school where a bad grade is “the end of the world.”
In fact, let’s remember the unfortunate event that occured during winter quarter in your Stats class. You were so nervous about taking that class because you went in knowing nobody, your Stats skills were very obviously rusty and your textbook for the class was a cryptic, futuristic cartoon style book including the adventure of some cat. And on top of that, there were weekly p-sets involving a coding language you had never even heard of before, and there were frequent in-class quizzes instead of a midterm or final. I was intimidated and anxious from the start to say least, but I was also ready to pull my act together after an academically hectic fall quarter. Long story short, there was one time when I completely forgot and stupidly slept through an in-class quiz (as it was pushed back to be due later in the day) and earned a solid zero. I’m not going to lie, it induced a lot of stress as it happened literally two weeks into the quarter — fourteen days after I promised myself I would pull myself together. But as always, in the end it all worked itself out. That’s what’s funny in college and I guess in life — things end up just fine, no matter how terrible they seem in the moment. I was aware that this was a lesson I had to learn eventually, but I never thought I would value it this much after my first year at Stanford.
A few other random tidbits you’ve discovered along the way include: 1) Chem is annoying. 2) Writing is actually fun! 3) Running seems terrible, but is essential for your sanity. 4) You’re a peanut butter and banana addict. 5) You’ve made some pretty awesome friends. 6) You should go to the Tressider Farmer’s market more often. 7) P-set partners are life-savers.
*Note for current students: I know that this time of the quarter can be busy and grueling for students, especially when the glorious promise of a relaxing summer is waiting on the other side. But don’t forget to take a moment to remember or record everything you’ve accomplished and learned these past quarters, because I’m sure you’ll end up impressing yourself with how much you’ve grown and experienced this school year. We’re almost there!
Contact Serena Soh at sjsoh ‘at’ stanford.edu.