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#78 I’m Back, and (Un)fortunately… Graduating

August 5, 2011

Note: I wrote this a little over a month ago, not wanting to jinx it because I was a little worried I might not graduate. But now that I have, donned the cap and gown, smiling so much for graduation pictures that my cheeks began to feel sore, the burden that I have carried for almost twenty years of my life as a student is finally lifted off my mind (literally)…

Sitting in a Starbucks cafe, in central London. An exceptionally sunny day, especially for this city known and loved by many for its gloomy demeanour. To me, London’s not London when the sun is out. And incidentally, I felt a little more than out-of-sync of my usual rhythm — the fact that I am finally graduating has finally started to sink in.

To check the results of my final final exams, I logged onto my university’s account, perhaps for the very last time after the final throes of my academic career, with a mixed sense of apprehension and unfeelingness sinking in the pits of my hot chocolate-laden stomach. Looks like I managed to scrape through the last required elective I was supposed to do (silently cursing myself for letting this one slip). The fact that I didn’t make my desired class of honours, by a pretty long shot really, completely obliterated the joys of getting an A+ in French. Yet, strangely, I experienced a sense of…nonchalance and relief. Nonchalance from not feeling the pain of my non-successes in academic life, and relief that I am walking out of four years of being a non-compliant student.

Looking back, it was amusing to the point of ludricrousness that I ever set out to live an ultimate college experience. Because… in retrospect now to say, there really isn’t any ONE ultimate experience, every experience is different and in the end, so what about the college experience?

I was expecting a huge wave of nostalgia to wash over me dramatically, so much so that I would feel sick to the stomach with regret for all the things I wish I did and didn’t do, and reminiscence of all the beautiful memories….. —-CUT— No, there wasn’t any of that drama. I somewhat wish I somehow did, but no, there was no stirrings, no invoking of any special emotions. It felt as humdrum, and perhaps even less exhilarating, as when I leave a shopping mall at the end of a long spree. Maybe I haven’t don my graduation gown yet, but I guess I am not the super enthusiastic type of student either.

Wait a minute! Before you start bashing me about me being ungrateful to the institution and education, and all the people who have helped me in one way or another during my academic life… I am thankful to everyone who have made my days in college smoother, easier, less torturous, more meaningful than it would have otherwise not been. I am grateful to my professors for trying in vain to educate, sometimes successful but mostly only manage to disseminate; my classmates for not choosing me last as their teammate in projects and being a listening ear when I needed to complain about lectures and assignments and whatnots.

There were moments in my university life that I truly cherished and enjoyed, especially when I was studying abroad and particularly in the sophomore and junior year, when I have outgrown the awkward freshman year and not yet entered the landmines of senior year. Classes I took that I really liked — transport geography, a field trip module in Hong Kong, modules about tourism and travel… Okay, so I have always been a lunch-is-my-favourite-subject kind of kid but still, there were intellectual moments that I relished.

Really, I’m just saying. It’s over… Curtain call. Standing ovation optional. Let’s move on…. to the scary part.

The post graduate life. Thank goodness there’s Dustin Hoffman to make me feel a little better about myself.

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