Month-Long Roller Coaster

On August 16, I was supposed to move into Georgetown’s campus as a bright-eyed freshman brimming with anticipation for what Hilltop has to offer: the center of American politics, limitless pre-professional clubs, the Georgetown neighborhood’s prized dessert shops, and in-person classes with top IR scholars. I had even pushed my move-in date three days earlier so that I could attend a social justice pre-orientation program.

But on July 29, Georgetown announced its decision to go virtual. Not to be dramatic, but I cried six times that day. Since then, the weeks have merged into a blur; the only events that interrupt a seemingly-repeating day are periodic episodes of sobbing and quarter-life crises.

Here’s what I remember:

  • My August intensive course, Problem of God, started on 8/3 and has made me think a lot about faith/religion. I’m starting to drift from agnostic atheist to agnostic theist (a mere one letter difference).
  • Journaling is so therapeutic. Highly recommend. Don’t know where to start? Try 52 weeks of self discovery!
  • I attended FOCI, a week-long pre-orientation program that introduces students “to community service, activism, and social justice issues in Washington, DC” where I learned about DC’s homeless and gentrification problems that make Seattle pale in comparison.
  • FOCI coincided with several sessions of my tutoring job and I was forced to haphazardly balance two zoom calls at once. Yikes.
  • New student orientation was surprisingly fun! I met some lovely people and still talk (!!) to one of them. My orientation leader is such a role model.
  • Just as I was feeling great about a few excellent garage sale art supplies purchases, my dad broke the news: my brother had a fever. My family (except me, since I had NSO) got tested for coronavirus and thankfully results came back negative.
  • My first two essays, each about 5-6 pages, are due at the end of the month. While essay writing has always been my strong suit, it’s been a while (11th grade) since I’ve actually needed to write a formal analysis paper.
  • I’m increasingly realizing the applicability of debate knowledge to college. For instance, my history paper is on Sino-U.S. tensions in the Indo-Pacific (specifically, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait).
  • After reading Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas (which I recommend!), I experienced my first quarter-life crisis of the month. The book opens up with a true experience of a Georgetown graduate’s dilemma: choosing between a consulting career and a nonprofit career. (Her situation–family background, interests, and dilemma–were eerily similar to my own.) In the end, money won and she chose McKinsey. But wait, there’s more! She grew disillusioned with the consulting world and is now a lecturer at Stanford.
  • One of my best friends left for college 😦
  • After spending hours reading up on case frameworks and sample case interviews, I got #rejected from an extremely selective consulting club after my first-round interview, where I brainfarted during the market size estimation question. My mom lectured me for 2 hours afterward–classic. Yes, I cried. Yes, I had a quarter-life crisis about my (lack of) future career prospects. Yes, I’m still not sure how to balance ethics with employment.
  • Some good news: I’m now involved in an international affairs newspaper, a politics club, and an international relations club. Perhaps this is a calling for me to transfer to the School of Foreign Service.
  • A few days ago, smoke-choked skies greeted my dreary Friday morning. I haven’t been outside in four days.
  • It’s impossible to extricate yourself from policy debate. A partnership of high school seniors from my team made it to finals of their first tournament and I couldn’t be prouder 🙂
Mood graph of the past month

Memory, always lucid, works in strange ways. I look back at college application season and see: nighttime coffee shop dates with my best friends, editing essays at noodle restaurants, rewriting my common app in a boba shop. I have buried the hours spent crying over my insecurities, obsessive stalking of college confidential, and the discomfort of packaging myself like a shiny advertisement.

When I look back at the past month, I taste thick, salty tears. Maybe a semester from now, this past month will taste bittersweet, like raw cacao powder. And a year? Dark chocolate. Five years? Milk Chocolate. Ten years? Chocolate chip frappuccino with extra whipped cream.

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