It’s nearly been three months since you graduated college. That’s wild, right? You no longer have to carry your 15 pound backpack through the Texas heat, worrying about the sweat stains on the back of your Comfort Colors, two sizes too big, t-shirt. You won’t ever have to stress about turning in a copy of your case study online and to the Finance department head by 3pm on Thursday afternoon. Accidentally over-committing to campus orgs is a non-issue.
All of the time you spent at career expo or practicing your answers to interview questions, it’s all been worth your while. You’re the boss now. At least, you’re the champion of how you want to grow to become greater every day. Here and now is the place where you chose to start the rest of your life.
You’re excited, full of nerves fueled by the uncertainty of what’s to come. You’ve moved to a new city, a change of pace and environment from your college town. You’re to find a new pattern, straying from what you’d grown so familiar to during the previous four years. That uncertainty makes you wonder, but it also makes you desire more from what’s ahead of you. Your first official task will be carried out eloquently as your first few weeks on the job are performed delicately. For when you’re not sure where you are, keep an open mind to all that will surround you. And when the time presents itself, you will realize how quickly you’ve established your new normal.
But I know you miss college. How, for the past four years, your best friends have been within a few steps from your reach. Acquaintances who you grew a familiarity to. I know how you look back fondly on even the simplest of memories, a willful nostalgia coloring your recollection. Now more than ever, you appreciate the freedom you were given while in college. They say college will be the best four years of your life, so I understand. It’s easy to feel a longing for a time that was so experimental and formative of your person.
Though promise me this: that you won’t exhaust your now being preoccupied with the past. You made your experience as a student what it was because you lived in the present. Every memory that you can remember ensued because you were determined to make it the best it could be. One worth sharing with your friends at your 11 am lecture on Monday morning. By all means, I’m not saying to let go of that experience, or move on from all that formed you into who you are now. Rather, while you’re so focused on how much you miss your time in college, don’t undermine what life after graduation has to contribute to your person. Make every day an occasion and make it one that’s worthwhile. Hear me out. So that one day you’ll reminisce on the days when you were a twenty-something, you won’t have let them go, unspent.
I’m a proud Longhorn of the graduating Class of 2017 at the University of Texas at Austin. My passions include traveling, writing, and being behind the camera. I started this blog my freshman year of university and hope to share with you what makes me, well, me.
There’s nothing quite as sobering as moving to a new city and realizing that you don’t know anyone. And in that moment, you begin to question where you are, what you’re doing, and whether or not you even know yourself.
It’s a quarter till one in the morning and I’m walking back to my dorm from the Escargot, rubbing my hands along the sleeves of my sweater, trying to fight the brisk night air breeze that was biting at my skin. The pathway is dimly lit except for the lamp posts illuminating the cement road between buildings C and B, which would soon be blocked off for the start of a years worth of renovations. My phone buzzed in my hand, and I quickly looked down at the screen only to find a notification from Facebook.
So-and-so and 21 other friends will be attending Tacos and Tequila tonight in Austin. Let them know if you’re attending!
I clicked the home button and shoved my phone deep in my purse, picking up my pace as I noticed the darkness dissolve with every step I took. In the distance I heard male voices howl, whistling and slurring some words in French before being interrupted by the sharp shattering of a beer bottle. It was as if you could slice the air with a knife, the silence being the loudest noise around me.
Moments later I arrived at building B, running up the four flights of stairs to get to the third floor (oh yeah, in Europe the ground floor is level zero and I lived on the European third floor, which is equivalent to the American fourth floor). I knocked on my apartment door and was greeted by my parents. My dad began by quickly briefing me on all of the organizing he did in my room: where he installed my tea kettle, how he moved my bed to face alongside the window, and how he hid some emergency cash along the inner lining of my desk drawer.
My mom enthusiastically handed me a brown, glossy gift bag, which I reached in to and found two beautiful diamond earrings along with a certificate of authenticity, entirely in French. “This is your early birthday present, since we won’t be here to give it to you then,” she would say. I swallowed back my nervousness and indulged in the luxury of my present, paying no attention to the reality of the situation– that my parents were about to say goodbye to me as I moved to a new city, in a new country, in a different continent. Realizing the time, two hours past midnight, we exchanged kisses on the cheek and my dad prayed in a hush tone as he embraced me for one last time (a tradition of his every time I leave to travel).
This was it. A rush of excitement reverberated through my bones, amplified by the hoots and howls which slipped through the cracks beneath the balcony door. While I was high on the adrenaline of being in a new country, a numbness sat idly in the back of my mind as I realized that I was on my own. That’s when the sobering silence began to seep in and I recognized the reality of the situation. I sat down on my bed and looked up at the moon through the large panel of windows along the wall. While I harbored a fear of losing myself in the commotion I felt relief knowing that that we all look up to the same moon. Swallowing my doubt, in that moment I knew that everything I would do was solely dependent on me. All that I was so certain of and with all other drivers aside, I’d control the reigns of my life and it would be up to me to make the most of all that would greet me in the new year.
All the sudden change and movement around me transformed into a state of constancy. My forever in the moment would soon deviate into a fond memory. As every day would pass, I would overwrite the uncertainty I’d face and discover my normal with the people I’d spend all of my hours with.
In the past year, my life turned into finding my new normal in a new city for an X-amount of time before having to move on to the next. The immediacy of every new setting sunk into my life, making that very moment in my life become my default, my new normal– square one. In France, waking up and walking down the street to Building T for class was my new normal. Waiting outside the Catacombs in the slicing, Paris night air for the 1:30 am shuttle from the city back to campus. In my home away from home I had found my new normal and in those fleeting moment, it felt as if nothing would ever change again.
A milestone of my life was turning 21 while I was living in France. At dinner at Paris’ Le Georges, to my surprise the waiters poured in to our private room with trays of sparkler shooters and velvety chocolate cake alongside a scoop of a ice cream and cannoli. As my friends sang happy birthday, I burst into tears and then to laughter. It only takes an instant to know something, and as my being trembled with emotion, I was overcome with the reality that I had found my new normal with the people I’d call my best friends.
As months passed, the excitement funneled into an anxiety obsessed over how the streets I’d walk and the people who I would talk to every day were only to exist in my life for a short amount of time before I’d have to move on to the next chapter. The honesty of being on my own rushed over me like a gradual intoxication. I thought my new normal was the definition of who I was, and when it came time to leave, I would have to leave behind who I became during that that part of my life.
It only took me 21 years and four months to realize that I was wrong.
Two thousand sixteen has been the year that I’ve lived mostly out of a suitcase and a carry-on. I’d start my year by leaving behind my second home, Austin, in hopes of finding myself eight thousand one hundred and ninety three kilometers away in the outskirts of Paris. Fast forward five months and traveling through 19% of Europe to when I arrived back in Houston, my hometown in Texas. Four days later, I’d make Uptown Dallas my new home and where I’d spend the entirety of my summer as an intern. After 9 months away, in the middle of August, I’d move to my new apartment in Austin.
I didn’t fully understand the concept of finding myself in my normal until this past summer. It’s a June, Saturday morning in Dallas and I lay in my bed, facing the large windows which overlooked Turtle Creek Boulevard, exposed to the beaming sunlight and white noise from outside. The silence rang in my ears as I wished so dearly to assimilate into my new city and clutched to the remnants of my old normal. Just a few days ago I was taking the RER into the city and drinking wine until the early hours of the morning. An hour passed of scrolling through my Instagram feed before I became cognizant of how my new normal wouldn’t come on its own. It would come when I dared to find myself in my new surroundings and in those individuals around me. I would look to spending time with others, not to mask a fear of being alone, but to discover pieces of myself through the relationships I’d form. Soon after, I quickly found my new normal in Dallas. I made the strongest friendships with some people I want by my side for the rest of my life. They made made me realize my worth, my purpose, and where I am in my life. As a young woman living outside of my comfort zone, I found that my perception of finding my “normal” was entirely skewed. I was so caught up in the momentary aspect of uncovering my normal that I overlooked how every experience and every exchange would form my person. The things you find in yourself stay with you even after you transition between your current routine of ordinary. You invent yourself in the different cities you travel to and the different people you meet. Your life should be spent finding yourself, and there’s never an end to who you are. It’s a puzzle. Everywhere you go and everyone you meet uncovers a sliver of who you are. The image of who you are in any given moment doesn’t prescribe all that you have yet to discover about yourself as you move on to the next part of your life. It stays with you and mends you in ways which may not be obvious in the present.
As my senior year begins at the best university in Texas, I reflect on the decisions I have to make that will contribute to forming my new normal picking a full time job, potentially moving to a new city, making new friends and leaving the shell of my comfort zone. Every time I leave for somewhere new, I find my routine in that new place and call it my normal. I’ve been using the word normal throughout the duration of my post, though this past year, my impression of normal has changed. There is no such thing as normal, it’s the extraordinary that we align ourselves with to challenge our journey. The excitement that comes along with our lives lies within finding yourself in the various opportunities around you and not confining yourself to your current idea of normal.
To quote Charles Dickens, “what an immense impression Paris made upon me.”
I left the states unsure of what I’d find in Europe. I hadn’t ruled out the possibility of living my very own Lizzie McGuire moment, nor had I expectations to become fluent in French in just five months. Well, the latter isn’t entirely true. In retrospect, I’m shaking my head at how easily I was able to navigate the city using the limited French vocabulary that I learned in elementary school. My novaturient wishes were to find myself in the places I would explore, the scents I would inhale, and the people whose words and energies would stimulate my thoughts.
Packing my life into four suitcases, I bookmarked the states in my past and set off to see the grand trouvailles that would decorate my life for the next five months. Let me tell you this in all honesty– I was not disappointed.
I could write you a novel with all of the tales of this semester, detailed with every inside joke and conversation that made me love the people I spent my travels with. Like that one time, rather every time, when I over-packed my carry-on past the 10kg limit allowed and had to give some of my things to my friend to keep so I could board the plane inconspicuously. When we celebrated the beginning of our study abroad and my 21st birthday on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower (and when Justin Bieber was having dinner at the table across from us during my birthday dinner). Those long, Tuesday night dinners at Napolitain and passing notes in 3-hour classes. And the countless amount of times my friends picked on me for trying to capture the perfect candid photo in front of national monuments and world heritage sites. Oh, how could I forget that time we went to an FC Barcelona match and spent the night on the cold floor of the airport waiting for our 7am flight?
The people I met on this trip, and the memories we shared, will stay with me forever. Words fail to express and detail all that happened in the course of five months. I’ve filmed several vlogs on this trip, and my final of this series will be around my home in Paris. I easily took the city for granted, not filming most of my adventures in the city. However, I filmed my last two days in the city of lights and some of my dear friends sharing their favorite things about the city. Because this project was the born in the midst of late night study session at so last minute, I was unable to film everyone that I wanted to (you know who you are)! But nonetheless, they made this trip what it came to be.
This is the final chapter and concludes concludes my study abroad episodes as I’ve written and filmed for you. Now, almost the middle of June, I’m in my new home in a new city, looking forward to spending my summer interning, meeting a whole new ocean of people, taking daring opportunities, and making more unforgettable memories.
I brought y’all to Paris, now come with me to Dallas.
When you have…
20/30 volunteer hours left to complete
Several organization meetings
Case studies and Excel assignments with electronic deadlines
The last possible academic advising appointment scheduled for the hour after your registration opens
It’s hard to catch a break. That’s just a typical weekly schedule now that I’m in my second year at the University of Texas at Austin, and additionally in the business school. It’s tough, and I sometimes I get so caught up in my work that I forget how to balance everything else. In fact, it feels as though 80% of the school year my Snapchat story consists of me complaining about Accounting, or a “0mph” snap of how exhausted I am.
Though when I take a step back, and reevaluate everything on my plate, I start to count my blessings and realize how minuscule my problems are. That Accounting assignment? Sure, it’s tedious and I only understand one third of it now, but it’ll be okay. Too tired from staying up all night studying? No big deal, I’ll sleep when I’m dead, it’ll be okay. The fact that I have no idea what classes I’m taking next semester? It’ll be sorted out, it’ll be okay.
I’m so blessed to have problems like these filling the cracks in my mind. When I think about some of the burdens that people have to face every single day, I realize how selfish and egocentric my problems are. There are people around the world who wake up asking themselves if today will be their day because there’s not enough food to eat, or water to drink. There are people struggling to make a living as everything else seems to fall against their favor. There’s someone laying in a hospital bed asking God how much longer they have.
I can’t begin to imagine how that feels. I don’t ever wish to feel that. I don’t wish for anyone to feel that pain. I wish that everyone can receive the blessings that I receive every single morning when I wake up, put on my contacts, and go to class. I wish for everyone to receive the gift of education, including all of the petty-problems we assume with it. I only wish for everyone what I wish for myself.
Stepping back into the frame, I realize that my problems aren’t unimportant either. To completely ignore the pressing way my burdens stress me out, and weigh heavily on my schedule, is to ignore all of the blessings in which I receive daily. I think that the reason why I have all of these obstacles, whether it be endless midterms or trying to balance spending time with friends and school, is so that I can step out of the frame every now and then and appreciate how fortunate I am in that moment. Without these pesky-problems, I wouldn’t be able to realize how significant and contented I really am.
That right there is a pretty accurate description of where I am right now, post-finals, writing this.
How is it that my first year at the University of Texas at Austin (boldface so it’s more epic when you read this in your head) is already over?! Alright, so first semester seemed to last forever once football season ended, and let me tell you this: when they say Turn Up DKR, they’re not kidding.
As a freshman, coming from a 5A public school in the big city of Houston, making the adjustment to classes with over 500 people and a student body of over 50,000 students wasn’t all that difficult. Given stats like that, you may be wondering how it’s even possible to make yourself noticeable, and to find a core friend group when there’s an almost inexhaustible amount of people around you daily.
That’s where my incredible friends come in. Started by a friendship I made during orientation, branching to signing up for football seats with a huge group in the student’s section, to starting a group text which grew larger and larger. That’s how I made some of the closest friends I’ve ever had, and they know who they are, and I love them to bits.
Freshman year also provided me with countless amounts of lessons. No, you will never get used to Quest. No, there’s no such thing as an “easy class.” Yes, you should carry an umbrella at all times. No, you will never get tired of coffee. No, nobody will notice if you use dry shampoo today. Yes, you will fall behind if you skip too many Friday lectures. Yes, Fireball is always a bad idea. Yes, you will spend all of next semester avoiding eye contact with the guy you made out with at a party.
But it also taught me about myself and the people who I surround myself with daily. Only when you’re comfortable with yourself is when you’re able to see the true colours of others. Freshman year was certainly a “weed out” year for some friendships, but most of all, it harvested numerous more. Can we just talk about how I met my best friend in a M 408K Facebook group the first weekend of school!? Friendships start in odd places, but give every single one of them a chance!
Another thing I learned, wear your orange, and be proud. Take part in any and every opportunity you get to wear burnt orange. It looks good on virtually every skin colour too (unlike certain, I don’t know, melancholy maroonish hues).
One thing I really enjoyed this semester was the Turtle pond. Yeah, okay, Turtle Tuesday may have been a thing last semester, but this semester it was all about spending time at the pond and really watching the turtles interact. It’s so calming when you step out of your world, take a step back from all the exams and studying, and take a look into their ecosystem.
Also, always carry carrots with you when you’re near the SAC. And don’t be scared to get close!
Another plus about Austin? The beautiful sunsets over the lake. An evening studying outside at Mozarts will provide you with the most beautiful sunset, so don’t miss it.
One thing I regret, somewhat, is not going to 6th Street all that often. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to turn down a sixth street invite this semester, I’d be able to pay for all my textbooks through grad school. This year I really focused on my GPA and gave my school work the priority. Next semester, I’m definitely planning on letting myself enjoy Austin and everything it has to offer. Plus, 6th is the birthplace of Keep Austin Weird, and when you go there, you’ll know why.
So as I bring this post to a close, just like my first year, I would like to thank everyone who was a part of my first year at UT. A special shout out to my sister, my one true bae and room mate, for always being there for me and giving me amazing advice (except for telling me to take GEO 303 which is so not an easy A, no matter what you try to tell me). I can’t imagine a summer without all of the friends I’ve made here at Texas, but God knows I can’t wait to be back in Houston and see all of my friends from home!
Thanks, and Hook Em Horns!
P.S. only 68 weeks until Canvas, woo!
Last week of classes:
Well, bring it.
When you’re finally done with an exam:
And you realize you have another exam to study for:
College: a never ending sine curve of highs and lows.