That Weird Feeling…

It still hasn’t sunk in yet.

Even though I’m moving in a little less than two weeks and looking at things for my new job (seriously, making one’s own healthcare decisions is HARD!) and stuff like that, I don’t know that reality is going to sink in until July 8th. Heck, maybe not until September… oh… whenever university starts back up again for the boyfriend. Or when I get my diploma—whichever comes first.

I think part of this has to do with being put under earlier this week to get the wisdom tooth surgery; I’ve been kind of muzzy the past several days, and when that hasn’t been the case, I’ve been escaping by reading. It’s really easy to lose track of time when one is reading. Time, space… the whole kit’n’kaboodle, really.

So, that’s why I haven’t been sticking to my schedule. Again. I’m kind of glad readership isn’t way the heck up there for that reason, but maybe that would give me the incentive to write more? I dunno. I just don’t know.

But apparently I know computer science, so there’s that…

I also know a few other things. A quick rundown:

–A year of ASL (I haven’t been using it as much as I should, though, so my production is… not so awesome…)
–Two quarters of calculus (integrals and 3D calculus)
–A quarter of atmospheric sciences (takeaway: weather prediction is inexact at best)
–A quarter of Shakespeare (a quote from the professor about Hamlet: Anyone who’s skipping class, I’m just going to assume is helping someone avenge their father.)
–A quarter each of computational biology and computational linguistics (yay, Hidden Markov Models!)
–Two quarters of Greek and Latin roots (my dad’s a biologist—take a guess as to what my grades were for those classes)
–A quarter of art history (helped greatly by a similar class in high school)
–A quarter each of surveys of psychology (The prof, at the end of every class, as flatly as possible: Okay I’m done g’byenow), philosophy (pious pancakes!), geology (yay, rocks!), and linguistics (fascinating)
–Intro to Judaism (I was asked, “Wait, you grew up Catholic? Why are you taking this?!” no fewer than 5 times. Um, maybe because it’s interesting!)
–Two quarters of phsyics: motion (ahh, memories of building a functional—if miniature—trebuchet in high school!) and electromagnetics (ahh, memories of my high school physics teacher frying everyone’s homemade speakers…)
–A quarter of physical geography (like the atmospheric science class and the geology survey rolled into one!)
–A quarter of the history of my area’s geography (soooooo much logging…)

There you have it. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot. And it’s gonna keep on going, if I have anything to say about it. I guess that determination is a lot of why the “school’s out forever” feeling hasn’t sunk in yet. And I’m kinda hoping it never does.

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What I’ve Learned In College

You learn a lot of things in college. Some of them will (hopefully) be pertinent to your future career. Some of them will make you a better person. Some will make you feel like you’re the worst person on the planet. Some seem like they’ll never be useful, but really will be.

In honor of my time at university drawing to a close, here are some things I’ve learned over the past four years.

–Food is a valid bargaining chip and can be used in place of money with the average college student. This is also more or less true of alcohol, but food will by and large make you far more friends, at least in my case.

–There are about 12 types of people you will meet in college, but each one of them is an individual.

–How to avoid La Rouchies.

–You’ll meet a lot of people who are just big high schoolers, or even big middle schoolers. At least one of them will be a professor or TA.

–Long weekends spent avoiding studying will allow for a lot of self-introspection. You will not always be happy with what you find, but you may also learn how to make peace with who you are.

–The quickest way from one end of campus to the other, excluding buildings that aren’t on campus proper. Like the ceramics studio. (Never had class there, and I’m thankful.)

–Everything you know is wrong, if only slightly.

–One does not magically become an adult by living on one’s own.

–How to get drunk neighbors to shut up/how to stand up for yourself when your neighbors will not shut up at 2 AM during finals week.

–How to manage with communal showers.

–Relatedly, that there are such things as paper towel dispensers and they produce these magical sheets of recycled wood product that can be placed between your hand and the hair clogging the drain.

–How to have fun on a budget.

–Dorm wifi sucks.

–Off-campus wifi really isn’t any better, and you have to pay more for it.

–How not to set off the dorm fire alarms while cooking.

–How to not be that jackass who sets off fire alarms at 2 AM sending everyone else out into the snow and ice in their goddamn pajamas. (Still haven’t gotten over that.)

–I can’t pull all-nighters.

–I can, however, talk until 3 AM with friends while trying to calm down from a panic attack.

–How to not live in an isolated bubble so that the real world seems like only a dream.

–How to cut coupons like a madwoman.

I would conclude with mushy stuff about how I have awesome friends I never want to lose touch with. This is very true, and while some of us are scattering to the four corners of the earth (or at least the southwest corner of the U.S.), we already know we’ll be staying in touch, so I’m not going to write sappy comments that would make me bawl my eyes out. There will be enough of that after I get my wisdom teeth out.

To Those Who Defy Fate, Glory

I will openly admit to anyone who asks that I watch anime. I usually get one of two reactions when I do this:

“Aren’t cartoons just for kids?” Well, no—unless the Simpsons, Family Guy, Futurama, and oh, let me think here… South Park are for kids, too.

“Isn’t that porn?” Oh, it definitely has a subset of NC-17 material. From what I’ve heard, I’m glad it’s not something that’s piqued my curiosity. But no, not all of it—not by a long shot.

Anime (and its comic-book counterpart, manga) span just as many genres as does your average library. Heck, I’m sure that for any book you could find in, say, Powell’s, you could find something on that same subject handled the same way in an anime or manga.

I happen to be attracted to a certain subset—the subset about how life goes on, even as it changes. Considering that I got into this whole scene as a teenager, this is pretty unsurprising. From the school-days stories of Fruits Basket and ToraDora! to the mystery of Spiral, from the adventures of FullMetal Alchemist and the political intrigue of Saiunkoku Monogatari to the… somewhat genre-defying but probably overall magical girl Princess Tutu, one thing has stayed constant: dealing with change.

I won’t bore you here with a billion different summaries of all the amazing things I’ve read and watched, though I highly recommend each of those and more, for what that’s worth. Instead, I’ll head straight to the heart of the matter.

As I’ve said before, I’d like to think I’m adaptable, but the truth of the matter is, I’m a big picture person, and so, big changes cause me great anxiety. I have a pretty nasty fear of the unknown, and when I try to conquer it all at once (my MO), it usually gets the best of me. Even so, things usually turn out fine, but my experience would be so much better if I could just relax and take life one thing at a time.

This hasn’t stopped me from forging on, of course. Through moving past (thankfully fairly minor and infrequent) middle-school bullying through the hormone-addled confusion of high school and onto college, where I’m supposed to have figured out my whole life, or so it seems, no matter the setbacks I’ve encountered, I’ve soldiered on because I’m just horrible at giving up. When I get sad or fearful, my first instinct is to get angry. It’s a coping mechanism of sorts. It gives me the courage to keep going; to do what needs to be done.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty low, so I sat down to watch some Princess Tutu and just have a good sob-fest. After all, it’s good to just let it all out every once in a while. But no, even though this is a magical girl anime with a horribly bittersweet ending that has me reaching for my tissues every damn time, it does have a bit of grit to it; a bit of that fighting spirit. At one point (and repeated again later as an echo), the puppet Edel says this: “May those who accept their fate find happiness; those who defy it, glory.”

It’s an interesting little quote. The second part makes a whole lot of sense. We’re the heroes of our own stories, after all—why shouldn’t we fight what we might see as fate? And why shouldn’t we come out better than ever? When I can, I take that tack in life.

However, the first part is a poignant reminder that even when we have to accept things as they are, we can be happy. It’s all a state of mind, after all. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever be sad. Grief and sorrow are completely natural, but we can’t let them rule our lives. At the risk of sounding self-important, I am going to include my own flowery quote from a fanfic I wrote a little under three years ago:

 “Why does the rain have to fall?”

 “So that when we see the sun shine again, when we feel its warmth, we realize just how much we take it for granted, and we are all the more grateful for its presence.”

Yes, it is horribly romantic—this was part of a romance because I’m a not-so-closeted romantic and I like my fluffy happy endings. I refuse to apologize for it, though, because it’s the best way I can frame my point. There are good things and bad things and meh things in life, and through it all, we just have to keep going, because that’s what we do.

And some day, we’ll see the sun again.