After a final glance at my last research paper and printing such laborious work out in the Learning Commons, handing it in finally signifies an official epilogue of the days sitting in classes and library corner from dawn till dusk. I should have felt much reassured and lighthearted to survive my final year after months of endeavour and tedious journal readings. Yet in reality, my regular footsteps hung heavily with the springing up of mixed feelings: the feeling of nostalgia about student life, the joy of waiting-to-be-graduated, and the confusion of my future plans.
If you say the previous two years are like an unforgettable, a meandering journey that helped spark my interest towards my current academic field, these latter two years are like a stressful, solitary yet an eye-opening path. It seemed to be so wonderful at first when I was finally able to transfer into a prestigious university in the city that I have long dreamed of. Recalling my first step-in to the large campus, I was so amazed by how internationally diverse the student population was and how I was being surrounded by bright, outgoing and accomplished high-flyers in the same lecture hall. In the meantime, the campus is enriched by multifarious extra-curricular activities, ranging from cultural arts to sports, filled with the invitation calls by society presidents.
However enticing an undergraduate life seemed, being on a big campus is that it eventually became harder to make close friends that could often meet and encourage each other by heart like in the past, but many “hi-bye” acquaintances with no more than basic greetings like “Hey there, what’s up?”. Gradually, I was so concentrated in my own little world, investing my precious time to polish my analytical skills alone, trying hard to grasp main points of the readings for the test and catch up with the deadlines at the end of the semester. Nonetheless, it was still eye-opening for me to learn relentlessly just by myself and be inculcated with all richly-informed knowledge, no matter about the current interactions between the nation-states and non-state actors or countries’ modernization efforts in the bygone century.
Images of my transition in these years cropped up in my mind: From a curious freshman who was trying to gain a foothold in this vast community to a sophomore who realised that, with increasing study workload, time suddenly slipped away like a twinkling of an eye. Just strolling around the campus after handing in my final paper, I followed my usual footsteps to the study corners that I usually buried my head into study content or busily met the assignment deadlines during the exam period, restaurants that I had delightful conversations with some travel buddies during lunchtime, those greenery footpaths that I meandered after hours of lessons, and also the Baroque-style main building that long perceived as the distinctive icon of the campus, where each traditional High Table Dinner was commenced. All combined together as memory snapshots of the university life, in which many people regarded that it would probably be the freest moment in one’s lifetime.
The undergraduate life, nonetheless, also further ignited my travel enthusiasm. Embarking on a tempting adventure to Tibet still stays fresh in my mind where this “Roof of the World” is blessed with picturesque views of pure nature and golden Buddhist monasteries of sheer spirituality. In the meantime, equally intriguing was the cultural exchange to Serbia and Kosovo, where my horizons broadened after a fascinating glimpse of their history, current development and bilateral relations, as well as their refugees and minority issues. Such in-depth travels, indeed, quench my curiosity towards a wide array of world cultures through interacting with the locals, which were much fruitful than tours outside that emphasizes more on shopping and tasting expensive cuisines.
However from now on, with the preparation to launch into the real, or perhaps a highly-competitive, treacherous world beyond the university, there will be no more pages of assignments and scholarly readings anymore, not to mention the examination periods that I was heading into the sleepless week of pressure. Yet at the same time, it is admittedly hard to bid a farewell to a long, laid-back summer holiday and semester break, and also student discounts for transportation and meals that I always enjoyed. These connoted to the fact that it will soon be the time to get rid of the “undergraduate student” tag and become a full-fledged, self-supporting grown-up that is going to bear more responsibility towards my future development.
“What are your future plans after graduation?”
Now, my circles of relatives, friends and even neighbours are gradually turning their attention to me containing their unparalleled eagerness, asking me whether my major is a profession and what kind of career I would like to engage in. In hope of exploring what I wanted for myself, I, however, get embroiled in a chaotic mess despite my continual consideration two years ago. The more I paid heed to navigate my pathway, the foggier my future direction seemed to be. I was totally lost, succumbed in a lingering state of frustration that I haven’t experienced before. It is just like being in the middle of the boundless ocean, without knowing where the guiding light or the oasis was. In all my life, I have been told to pass exams with flying colours. Even in senior secondary school, my lens became so clear that being admitted to my current Faculty was the sole, and also the most crucial goal to achieve even against all odds.
I always aspire to make the most of my academic knowledge from the university to contribute more to the society and the world. And I always hope to mould myself into a person that I am able to lend a helping hand to those in need, a person that is going to make an endeavour to shape the world a better place and a person that I can take pride in after tracing back myself years and decades later. Starting a new phase of my life soon, where will I be next and what will I be doing in the nearer future? Being young, the early twenties is also full of uncertainty and struggles for self-discovery, in figuring out who I am by digging deep into my innermost voice. This tumultuous mess is where I am still searching for my identity, pondering on how I can strike a balance between our ideals and reality, and ultimately how to build the foundation for the rest of adulthood.
A new stage of life commences. The other months are expected to be strenuous, yet I will continue to polish all-rounded skills and be better equipped. The pursuit of a promising career might be doubtlessly steep and tough. However, it is still better for a fresh graduate, like me, to make an attempt to take the plunge, hope for the best, conquer the uncertainty, and stride with unwavering faith and courage. After all, what we are all here is to colour our experiences and to live without regrets. Step out from the comfort zone and explore the unknown. Appreciate own inner value, let yourself grow and shine confidently. ♦