Almost a year ago, someone asked me a question on my Ask.fm, and I’ve been meaning to answer it, but as always, I kept putting things off. Thought that now is a good time (better late than never, huh?) to answer it, as it’s been a year since I graduated from college, and the past year has given me tons of time to reflect on my college life experience and to think about what I actually carry with me after I left my second home, Madison.
“Did you imagine the [university] life before you study in the [university]? So, is it same with what [you’ve] imagine[d]?”
Anyone going off to university will definitely have a certain level of expectations about being in university, and I’m one of them. Going to a US university, in particular, was definitely a huge thing in my life, as it would be my first time stepping foot in a new country on the other side of the world. Not to mention, I never actually thought about coming to the US until mid-2012, when I (quite impulsively, I might add) decided to drop out of A-Levels and start over new in ADP in INTEC.
So I never actually gave much thought about living a US life. My mind has always been about going back to the UK, meeting up with my old friends from King’s Wood School, heck, perhaps even going to college with my best friend, Tony. That was an idea that I was looking forward to, the possibility of meeting them again and going back to where I grew up for a part of my life.
That one short year in INTEC during my ADP – that was the only time I had to actually prepare myself about life in the US. An unknown place that I’ve only heard, read and watch on books and TV. The ‘college life’ hype was all thanks to mainstream movies and dramas, and to make it worse, my university was considered one of the top ‘party schools’ in the US. Watching movies like ‘Sydney White’ and ‘Pitch Perfect’ was giving off the hype that “OMG IT’S GONNA BE SOOO EPIC AND AWESOMEEE’, but in reality?
I mean, OK, I miss my life in the US. But I think there is also all this made-up hype about studying overseas, and that people tend to exaggerate all the ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’ things and talk less about the not-so-fun parts of living in the US.
- Having to pray in a small corridor / storeroom, or walking down to the end of a corridor and climbing up flights of stairs to find a quiet spot to pray in peace.
- Sometimes meeting ignorant people who either (1) yell / curse at your face [like this incident], (2) stare at you with such deep hatred, (3) treat you bad because you’re wearing a hijab, or (4) yell at you to go back to your country. Thankfully, this does not happen often to my friends and I.
- Realizing when you’re there that the grading system is hell, and makes you laugh at the Malaysian grading scale.
- Living in a place where the wind literally hurts your face, and even though it’s bloody freezing and the city has already given out a notice to remind people that “please don’t stay out in the cold for more than 5 minutes or you’re going to get frostbites”, the university would still not close for the day and you have to get to class anyway.
- Sometimes struggling to juggle part-time work with volunteer work with actual classroom work and some life dramas (friendships problems, LDR problems, homesickness, yada yada yada).
- Having existential crisis about who you are and what you’re meant to become and how you are no longer the person you once thought you were. This happened a lot to me, mostly throughout my last two years of college. This is probably one of the reasons I chose to live alone in a studio, and be a hermit for most of the time. I didn’t want to talk to that many people, kept to myself (and a few close and annoying juniors who won’t leave me alone lol), and took walks in the middle of the night because I was contemplating about life and where it would take me.
- Trying to find halal food where you are, because not every place is like New York where you can find Halal Guys at every corner of the city.
- Putting all these pressure on yourself because “omg everyone’s expecting me to do super super well” and then kicking yourself hard when you failed to live up to the exceedingly high expectations and blaming it all on yourself.
- Trying so hard to keep everything bottled up because, hell, studying abroad is supposed to be all fun and happy, so you try your level best to portray the fun part of life while keeping the reality part to yourself.
- Telling yourself the same thing other people keep on telling you, about how “college life is the best 3/4 years of your life” and “you’ll meet your best friends for life when you’re in college”, and then feeling miserable and useless when your college life does not seem as ‘fun’ as other people’s.
- Being stuck in a major/program that you hate/dislike, and not having any way to escape because you’re sponsored to study that particular major and heck, you’re stuck.
I could go on, most definitely, but I think you get the point. While my college life was fun and I do admit, I miss the US and I wish I could go back to visit, I wouldn’t want to go through 4 years of college again. I did make some good friends, both Malaysians and non-Malaysians. I miss our gaming nights, obviously, where we used to hang out at our ‘clubhouse’ and play card and board games all night long. Or where we go on random road trips down to Illinois for the fun of it. Or when we go out to midnight movies or drive 1 hour to Milwaukee because someone’s craving for Halal Guys. Or our late night grocery shoppings at Woodman’s. Or just the random parks and places we go when we’re bored.
Although, when I think back about it, there are lots of things I wished I did, or didn’t do, like learning to open up to more people instead of keeping things to myself because I was afraid of getting hurt again (from past failed friendships). But there’s no point in regretting those times, because no matter what, I couldn’t go back and change how things turn out to be. My friends were great, some were exceptionally amazing and I wouldn’t change them for the world.
Okay, that’s all for now, I think. Until next time, stay awesome people.