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Posts Tagged Amherst College

By the end of Freshman Year….

jenny-85You come to realize after you start packing your stuff…that you have a load of stuff that you deemed necessary but ended up sitting in the corner of your dorm room collecting dust. Oh yeah. Those trinkets from back home, for example, a bottle of colored sand with a note from my friend in it. Not the easiest thing to pack and bring back. It screams “FRAGILE!”

So, word of advice. Pack photos. They’re easier to transport instead of strings of paper cranes and glass bottles of paper stars. For those of you traveling far away? Constantly remind yourself that you’re going to have to pack ALL that stuff away, lug those boxes back from storage the next year, AND THEN unpack everything. I’m a pack rat. Not proud of it, but I had so much stuff to pack away, my back hurt. Not to mention my parents probably bought me enough toothpaste to last all four years…Be smart about the amount of stuff you have. If you’re anything like me, it’ll just accumulate over the years. Let’s not give ourselves back pains, yes?

For all you incoming freshmen, relax. Meeting new people is going to happen throughout life. No need to be nervous. As for names and faces? Having trouble remembering them? Well, half the time, they don’t remember yours either. Don’t feel too bad. I said hi and exchanged phone numbers with one girl, the next day, she forgot who I was. My school’s not even that big.

As for academics, if you struggle, that’s okay. If you struggle, you’re trying, growing, and learning. Struggle shows that you have the determination to keep going even though it’s hard. Don’t feel as if you’re inadequate or not smart because everyone else around you seems so smart. It may sound cliché, but really, everyone has their own strengths. You’ll find your way eventually.

Rejection and Heartbreak: College Acceptances

jenny-85I’m not usually a crier. I don’t like people seeing me cry. It’s just not me, you know? I mean, I cried when Ash died in Pokemon: The First Movie, but it wasn’t the same as having your eyes water in the computer lab with strangers all around as you read the rejection letter from Stanford. Oh yes. Random people patted me on the back and offered me tissues. Kind of them, yes, but oh so embarrassing for me.

Yep, rejection hurts. But those other fancy paper letters in the mail with the special seals on them made the pain a little less. I mean, yeah, they’re not my dream school, but many other colleges wanted me too! Bright side: it’s not the end of the world! (Yet.) I know the rejection probably broke your heart, but we just have to get up and get over it. There are many other fish, I mean colleges, out there, some of whom think you’re just awesome and they’d love to have you as a student.

My choices were very different from one another. Amherst College and UC Davis. They’re on different coasts, have dramatically different weather, and one’s within reasonable driving distance to my family. To my many relatives and friends, the choice was already made: Davis. Approximately 2 hours away, and I could go home, be with my friends and all that. But then there was Amherst College. Far away, cold, no home cooking. My aunt’s exact words? “How are you going to live without us???” Actually, just fine, albeit very homesick.

My final choice was Amherst College. Why? *Ahem* Financial aid. *Ahem* Exploration. Independence. I felt like I needed to grow, so what better choice than to simply move on out of my comfort zone? And it also helps that New York and Boston are both a bus ride away.

Just think about your options. Where are you going to be happy? Where are you going to enjoy learning? For many of us, this is the first big choice we’re going to make. Choose what seems right. Flip a coin. (I’M KIDDING!)

If Time is Money, I’m SO Broke

jenny-85Time just seems to run away from me. There are never enough hours in a day to do the things I want to do. Can’t take a nap. Can’t go to the movies. Can’t go read a book for leisure because I’ll definitely end up reading it instead of the books I need for class. And then I can’t do the things that I need to do. Like study for that exam that’s coming up. Finish my homework. Can’t finish the insane amount of reading I have for my writing class. Time-management? Not my forte. It’s harder than I thought it’d be.

You’d think that you would have more time in college. Classes don’t start till nine or ten. Some classes don’t meet every day. You probably thought, “YES! Freedom!” Nope. Not at all. Between classes, lunch lines, laundry, coursework, clubs and sleep, me-time is cut down severely.

One thing I do is keep a planner. In this age, phones seem to have this application too, so no excuses. I first list the things that are due. For example, papers for writing class or problem sets for my science courses. Then I split them up into parts I can take on day by day. Do these things by Tuesday and then move on to the next part on Wednesday. Don’t take on everything on one day. Trust me. Papers don’t turn out too well when you’re writing while sleep-deprived.

Once things pile up, they can start to affect your grades. So, you may have to drop something, whether it be reading manga, watching Glee or gelling your hair Super-Saiyan style. Yes, all of these things are very important. But grades are more so. I, for one, realized that Korean dramas took up A LOT of my time. I would wait for them to air and then check if anyone put in subtitles. Then I would procrastinate too often to watch the shows. I understand how hard it is to quit cold turkey. But you gotta do what you gotta do!

You don’t come to college to socialize or play, so if it really comes down to it, you can be a hermit in your room for a few days and study or catch-up with classes. Your friends will understand. The disappearing act is only for a while. If they don’t, they might have a few attachment issues. (Ahaha.)

College Choice and Homesickness

jenny-85Everyone congratulates you when you get accepted somewhere. Yay! Great! You got in! Whoo-hoo! But no one tells you that now…you must CHOOSE. It might not be hard for some. I mean, community college…or Harvard. Or maybe you had a college you were already set on. Great.

For me, I was only concerned with UC Davis and Amherst College. At first, I thought “UC Davis all the way!” It was convenient, close to home. My cousins went there. Mom and Dad wanted me nearby. And to someone who loved family above all else, Davis was going to be my choice. All my friends from elementary school and middle school were going to be there. I had it all planned out. It was going to be great!

One night, I thought about it. Did I really want to be in a big school and be just another number? Did I want to go somewhere and explore a bit? Be more independent? Those thoughts landed me in Amherst College. When I told my dad I wanted to go to Amherst, Dad didn’t talk to me for the whole evening. He just went on about his business, lost in thought. He almost walked into the door and then looked around to see if anyone was watching. I saw, but didn’t say anything, just chuckled to myself. I felt as if I needed to grow up, and then come back as a capable, independent person so I could take care of my family. He was not going to sway me from my decision.

Later that night, he gave me his awkward one-armed hug, and said, “You can do whatever you want. It’s your choice.” Translation of awkward daddy talk: I approve.

It’s hard being away from home. Food. FOOD! I’m sorry, but even professional chefs have nothing on my mom’s home cooking. I miss my friends. I mean, these are kids I shared candy with in 3rd grade. Sometimes, I see professors and their little children running about, and I immediately think of my little nine year old brother, and how I’d give anything to hug him right then and there. And then I pretend something flew in my eye when my friends ask why I’m crying.

To all of you considering going to school far away, there’s Facebook (Yes, I know, it’s a procrastinator magnet.). There’s video chat, email, phones. There’s something called mail. I know that they’re poor substitutes for the real thing, but I’m dealing with it too. Homesickness gets better with time. Trust me, once the work settles in, WHOO, you won’t have time to SLEEP! You’ll be fine.

Soon as exams are over, I’m flying home. And then run into the kitchen and demand that Mom make me a bowl of pho.

Sometimes, I hate that I love college

jenny-85College is hard at times. Being away from your family. Not having mom’s pho or fried rice. Getting a fever even though you have a paper due soon. And then feeling like you had the ground pulled out from under you only to realize you just stepped on some black ice.

But along with those times, you get the good stuff. Laughing at a Facebook post with your roommate at 2 in the morning even though you’re supposed to be working on your essay. Waking up the next day with your head feeling like mush, only to see a text from a buddy telling you to meet up for breakfast. The little things that make your day seem not so bad.

Then there’s meeting people. Others that are perhaps more ambitious or smarter than you. Others that have dreams and come from different backgrounds. I would be lying if I said you’d meet nice people everywhere, but among the less sociable ones, you get friends. Then you find joy in talking with them and understanding where they come from. Maybe even sharing music tastes or book titles. I was introduced to Korean pop music.  And I am quite happy I have.

It’s these little things. Making friends and meeting people that you normally wouldn’t have a chance to. Taking a film and writing class that requires a lot of time you don’t have, but actually enjoying writing that essay because that movie was REALLY good. Or seeing a light at the end of the tunnel when your chemistry homework actually made sense. (I almost cried, but I told my roommate it was the eye drops.)

Valentine’s Day was just same old same old. But as I walked back to my room to drop off books, I noticed something on my door knob. There were several valentines from my dorm mates hanging there. And suddenly my day didn’t seem too bad as I walked out again to another class, chocolate melting in my cheek.

I love these little things.

I Hate Being Broke

jenny-85You can’t do a lot of things without money. You can’t go out to eat with your friends. You can’t enjoy that green tea latte while relaxing at a local Starbucks. You can’t buy your Chemistry textbooks (They cost A LOT). And you can’t pay for the laundry because each time you use the washer or the dryer it costs you a buck and twenty-five cents (That builds up, you know.)  So what are you going to do? Wear your old clothes and hope they don’t smell?

These are just some of the potential problems of a broke college student. How do I know? I have spent a Saturday night NOT going out because my student card didn’t have enough money for the dryer. I ran back to my room to look for change but didn’t find any. Then I realized that I couldn’t ask my dorm mates for change because they were out partying. So I was just standing in the laundry room, staring stupidly at my pile of wet clothes. Not fun.

Most of us start to feel some freedom once we’re in college. “Yes! Mom and Dad can’t control how I spend my money anymore!” Well, don’t go mad shopping, you’ll regret it very soon. You’re going to be broke and unhappy. There’s going to be too much stuff in your already small dorm room. Besides, come summer to those who are abroad, where are you going to store your stuff when you go home? Storage space isn’t always free…

Hints: When you see piles of coupons in your post office, TAKE THEM! TAKE ALL OF THEM! (No, not really, save some for other people, too.) And do research. Ask your professors before the semester starts about which books to get. See if you can buy them earlier or if there’s a secondhand book store. Amherst College has a student run program called The Option where students sell and buy used books.  Research! Save money! And then treat yourself to some wings occasionally. It’s good to enjoy life, but be responsible.

Christmas/New Year’s: Stuffing Myself

jenny-85Instead of having the usual presents under the Christmas tree, I had food. Lots and lots of food. No presents in colorfully wrapped boxes. Just food. And I was so very happy. You know the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? My version goes like this: “On the first day of Christmas my parents gave to me: a big bowl of noodles with crab meat!”  Then shumai and porkbuns! Imagine my joy.

I hope all of you are enjoying the break as much as I am. I know my stomach is.  The first day I got home and had a bowl of hot, steamy rice, I cried. I’m not lying. It was THAT good. To those of you who will go to college away from home, check if rice cookers are allowed in your dorm. If not…well, some people bring them anyway. I’m just saying. Ahem. Moving on.

College apps are done or almost done. I know it’s been hard and you probably will never want to write another essay, but all of you should apply for scholarships. Don’t just aim for the larger, more well-known scholarships. Go for the small amounts, too. Chances are, many other college applicants were thinking “I should apply for the bigger scholarship because it will save time!” Nope, not all the time. More well-known scholarships mean more competition, too, you know. Go for the big ones, but also go for the smaller ones for backup. And in college, you’ll come to realize that even $100 is important. So work on those scholarships! It’ll save your parents money. I have a younger sibling that will attend college soon, too, so I’m looking for scholarships to take some of the burden off my parents.

Happy New Year’s everybody! Stuff yourselves, that’s what people do on holidays. Enjoy your break with your loved ones!

WHOA! It’s SNOW!

jenny-85It’s hard to believe that the semester is already coming to an end. So much has happened. Meeting new people. Forming new friendships. Trying out new activities. Helping your friend find out how to form a quidditch club. Time has passed. The leaves have already turned into pretty reds and yellows and fallen off. The trees are now skinny and bald.  And then you’re wondering, ”…What am I going to do when it starts snowing?”

The other students at Amherst that are used to snow are already taking out the big puffy jackets and the heavy-looking snow boots. Me? I’m from California and I have two pairs of flip flops, some sneakers, and some Uggs some friends gave me. A friend from around the area just looked at me and my small collection of shoes, and said, “Jenny. You’re going to freeze to death and have your toes fall off. Then, your fingers are going to fall off because your gloves are so cheap.” Isn’t that something to look forward to?

Well. I want to keep all of my toes. I need them for balance. And I also want to keep my fingers, for, you know, video game playing. To all those unused to the weather, please, dress warm. Don’t end up like me, who wore only a t-shirt and a hoodie outside when it was 28 degrees Fahrenheit outside and was sick with a cold the next day. It was in the morning, when I woke up, with runny nose, burning eyes and a congested chest, that I thought to myself, “Man, I am so stupid.”

Other than that, many of you may be taking finals and/or writing final papers. Good luck and dress warm! Don’t end up as I did during the SAT: taking the test with one hand and holding a tissue to my nose in the other. It doesn’t help your concentration or your scores. Enjoy the rest of the semester! And whatever you do, don’t give up. We’re almost there guys, break is almost here.

College Essays: Happy Days!

jenny-85     Not really. Not for me anyway. I applied to so many schools that I felt quite overwhelmed by the whole process.

     Although the Common Application helps out the main essay, many schools require supplemental essays, which may be short or long depending on the question. Now, what’s really annoying, is the word limit. You want to utilize what you have, but I found it extremely difficult. I constantly cut off and substituted words, trying to make my answers fit. Even though they are annoying, these questions are very important, so do your best. Try to put as much as you can into your answer. I don’t mean that you just should list all the extracurriculars or community service activities you do. Write about them. Describe them. That’s when the word limit becomes your enemy.

     Then there’s the main essay that every college will look at. I rewrote that essay about ten times before my English teacher decided that it was alright. “Alright” meaning I still needed to touch up on it. I wrote about how my aunt’s cancer changed my life. My friends wrote about their families, sports, sibling, life experiences, or passions. Some wrote about experiences that changed their lives, and others wrote about chasing dreams and passions. What you write about is up to you. It is your story, tell it to those who will read it.

     As for revision, get your friends to read it. Enlist a teacher’s help. Read it to yourself quietly. Read it out loud. Is the grammar in agreement? Did you spell something wrong? Did you forget a period? Admissions officers will be paying attention to your writing. If they see a student with grammar and spelling mistakes in their essay, they may think, “Well, this student obviously sent me an unfinished essay. They’re probably not serious about this school to care enough to look their essay over.” My advice: please be careful and take this seriously.

     And for those of you that go “Aw, man. I don’t want to do this”, your future is in your hands. No one will be able to write your college essay for you because your story is yours, not theirs. They cannot tell it as you can. Your college essay will help the school determine whether they want you in their incoming class or not. Take up that pencil and write. You have work ahead, and your future.