Pre-Winter Quarter Thoughts, Excitements and Anxieties

Hi guys! It’s 3:46 p.m. as I sit at my dorm-room desk, typing away. Today is the last day of freedom before the commencement of winter quarter, and I’ve been relishing every moment of it.

My roommate Maggie got back last night, and we’ve since been doing a lot of catching up. I woke up at 10:45 a.m., sped through my morning routine, and took an Uber to Westwood, where I met up with my friend Emily for Sunday brunch at Panini’s Café. Emily is a third-year biochemistry/pre-med student at UCLA. She is also the president of UCLA’s Regents Scholar Society and is involved in many other on-campus organizations. I definitely look up to her in many ways. She’s an incredible leader, super outgoing and charismatic, and seems to genuinely enjoy helping and mentoring others. We met last spring at the Overnight Stay Program for high school seniors admitted to UCLA as Regents Scholars. Emily was the director of OSP that year, so she played a huge role in helping me with my decision to go to UCLA. Anyway, the two of us shared a nice brunch, caught up on winter break and the past quarter, discussed career aspirations, and shared our hopes and anxieties about the appending future.

After brunch, I Ubered back to campus, where I met up with a dancer, Marco, for a try-out. We practiced his rumba routine several times, getting the feel of our connection and such. I felt that we danced well together, and we are both very committed to Latin dancing. Hopefully this partnership works out!

After the try-out, I practiced my rumba walks a bit more, then headed back to my dorm to kick back and relax. I feel strangely at peace with the present moment, relishing in this last bit of carefree bliss before classes begin. After an entire month of relaxing, I doubt that anyone- professors and students alike– feels like getting back in the groove. Well, such is life… vacations can’t last forever. If we did nothing but relax all the time, then the very act of relaxing would lose meaning and pleasure.

I’m a little anxious for the impending quarter, just because classes will be harder than last quarter’s, and I’ll be taking 4 classes instead of 3. But I’m also looking forward to the challenge of it and the growth that will ensue.

My primary goal for this quarter is to get time management DOWN. As Emily and I discussed over brunch, most people coming into college– myself included– think they have good time management skills. Once they start, however, they soon realize they have a lot to learn. In college, you have a lot more free time than you did in high school. With this freedom comes discipline and responsibility. You have to figure out a schedule that maximizes productivity and allows for a good balance between studying and relaxing. You have to set your own structure. I definitely struggled with finding a schedule that worked for me during my first quarter of college. A lot of it is experimentation– finding locations where you study most productively, or seeing if you like morning classes or afternoon classes. I made the mistake last quarter of thinking I could study efficiently in my dorm room. One glance at my bed and I’d feel tempted to take a nap. So this quarter, I will study in the library. I’ll plan my days in such a way that I’m not constantly walking back a forth between campus and my dorm room, wasting precious time in the process. I will make time for my two primary extracurriculars– Latin dance and research. I won’t waste time doing anything I feel is no longer serving me.

Another goal for this coming quarter is to attend more office hours. In the beginning of fall quarter, I was pretty diligent about going to office hours, asking questions and getting to know my professors. Later on, my motivation to go kind of slipped. Part of it was laziness– I didn’t want to walk from my dorm all the way across campus to my professor’s office. I didn’t think it was worth the time or effort, if I could eventually figure out the concept on my own, or with classmates. Now, I realize what a waste of precious resources that was! These professors, who are pioneers in their respective fields, have a wealth of knowledge to impart to us students. While professors may have varying degrees of enthusiasm for teaching, at office hours, they have no choice BUT to teach and answer students’ questions. In retrospect, it was silly of me to pass up this opportunity to learn, better understand concepts, and build connections for letters of rec, which is why I will prioritize office hours more this coming quarter.

Finally, I will make sure to take better care of my physical and mental health. No more unnecessary all-nighters. No more locking myself in a room and studying all day. No more striving for perfect grades. No more studying until 2:00 a.m. when I have an 8:00 a.m. lecture the next day. All that matters is that I make a valiant effort to try my very best, but not so much as to ruin my health. I will be more wary of personal hygiene, making sure to wash/sanitize my hands before meals, eat Vitamin C, drink lots of hot water and green tea, and not go to bed with wet hair. When I leave my dorm room on chilly days, I’ll be sure to wear a jacket so I don’t risk catching a cold. Honestly, guys, if you are sick, it’s impossible to work at maximum productivity. Your grades, in turn, will suffer. Everyone I’ve spoken to says it’s inevitable that you’ll get sick at least once each quarter, especially if you are living in a dorm setting where germs spread very easily. I am PRAYING to not have a repeat of last quarter’s respiratory/GI virus… a memory I’d rather not relive. All I can do if/when I get sick is to know how to nurse myself back to health as quickly as possible, and pray that the illness doesn’t happen during midterms or finals.

Alrighty, guys. This is it for today’s post. I’m gonna relax some more, maybe watch some Netflix, go to the gym, eat dinner, then get ready for tomorrow.

I also want to thank everyone who read my previous post, Confused, and offered some great, insightful advice for a young woman struggling to find her path. Words can’t truly express how touched and grateful I feel to have so many supportive people following my life journey and helping me out along the way. I derive meaning from my ability to use writing as a means of hopefully inspiring and comforting those going through similar predicaments as I am. I know the journey to finding my calling will not be easy… but maybe’s it’s not so much about where I end up, as it is the process of exploring, learning new skills, going out of my comfort zone, meeting new people, and ultimately discovering things about myself I wouldn’t have known, had I not pushed myself into the discomfort of straying from a solid path of comfort and safety.



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