Most people may find it easier to appreciate doing something for the first time – whether it’s jumping off the swings or jumping out of a plane. This natural appreciation stems from the unique, incomparable quality of the experience. However, these are similar reasons why I’m more likely to appreciate seconds (this applies when it comes to meal times too). I take pleasure and extract personal significance from the opportunity to juxtapose similar experiences. Results of this direct comparison allow me to realize how much I’ve grown and changed throughout a lapse of time.
As I enter my second winter break (J-term) of my college career, my feelings regarding ending this Fall semester and returning “home” to Sunny San Diego are drastically different than last year. After my first college semester of adjusting to long distance relationships with my bestest friends and family as well as adapting to a college workload and lifestyle, I would have literally eaten a cockroach in exchange for the fastest flight back to California. This isn’t to say I didn’t have a magical time exploring East Coast architecture and city life, or familiarizing myself with Harvard courses and community because I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences for any superhero power you can offer me. I was just super homesick and felt on the verge of burning out after the numerous problem sets (psets) and papers that I wasn’t use to cranking out in a compact period of time (especially after my self-diagnosis of a serious case of senioritis). For my first J-term, I planned absolutely no productive activities in order to maximize relaxation and bonding time with loved ones. I have exactly zero regrets about making the month-long vacation all pleasure and no business because sometimes that’s precisely the balance you need. I look forward to doing the same this J-term, but just in another country (traveling to Vietnam for the first time with my family!!).
This year, when the final exam schedule was released, I intentionally gave myself two days after my last exam to enjoy the beauties of Cambridge that most students pass on during the chaos of the semester. Although I was indeed itching to return to warm climates and share another semester worth of adventure stories, there was no way you could have convinced me to even step into the same building as a cockroach.
I have a very loose definition of “home” now because I’ll always identify myself as a native San Diego girl, but most of the time when I say “home,” I’m referring to Mather. When I drop cereal bits on the floor, I pick it up immediately because that’s exactly what I would do at home (before my mom yells at me!). When my roommates have had a rough day, I’ll do my best to comfort and/or distract them because that’s exactly what I would do for my older sister. Regardless if home means San Diego or Mather, it’ll always have a warm connotation…just like airports!
I’ve grown very fond of airports. Despite their perpetual mugginess and lack of warm décor, airports have transformed into a representation of almost home. These lackluster buildings naturally incite nervous excitement and it feels exactly like the few moments I’m walking up my driveway right before coming home for the first time in months.
These minor moments have become extremely significant in my life. They’re a constant reminder that time has not only passed, but allowed me to grow as an individual as well as alongside my close groups of friends. And as I’ve grown, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of reflection more and more. Travelling is a personal trigger of reflection, but whether you end up at a university around the corner, across the country, or even in a different hemisphere (!), I hope these reflective moments creep up on you so you can realize and accredit yourself to your accomplishments!
Happy holidays everyone! May you eat as much as you relax!