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Fresh starts and harsh realities

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Since I come from the Midwest, the majority of my friends from high school are now on the semester system. Along with earlier end and start dates, this has them changing classes twice during an academic year versus three times, as we do on the quarter system. We could have a debate, as my friends back home and I often do, about the pros and cons of both systems. However, the reality remains that I came back to school for the third time last week with, as Panic at the Disco would say, “High Hopes” for spring quarter, and once again I faced tough realities about what actually happens for me as a college student.

It seems like every time we get a break from school, whether it is summer, winter or spring, I use my time away from my hectic schedule to become an idealist. I start planning how I am going to use my calendar (which I somehow forget I struggle with severely), clear out my email and create folders for each activity or class I have. I look forward to having nice lunch breaks with friends and going to the gym to pump some iron. I even convince myself that I will wake up early every day to give myself enough time to start my day off right.

But when the mass of emails start flooding in at top speed, and I realize my class schedule doesn’t allow for lunch breaks, I start to think that maybe the quarter isn’t going to go exactly as planned. A couple of days ago, I was walking down my dorm’s hallway, and I passed someone going in the opposite direction. I asked the typical question, “How are you?” But instead of hearing the typical “I’m good,” he said, “I’m doing my best.” I feel like that sums up how every college student should think once the idealism from the first day or week back fades away. Each day, try your best, because that is all you can do. My inbox may or may not have more than 1,000 unread messages in it, and I may or may not have had microwave popcorn for lunch on Thursday, but I am trying my best.

It is such an interesting phenomenon to think of how we go through these cycles of “starting over” and “pushing through” so many times as students, but even knowing the feeling will be fleeting I can’t help but love the clean slate excitement that accompanies every beginning we have. I realize that it will be harder to find ways to experience that anticipation when my schooling is over. So for now, I will keep pushing forward to find the next new beginning that is in store for me at Stanford.

Contact Trisha Kulkarni at trishak8 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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