1. Dropped a class after one lecture
  2. Took a CS class then proceeded to skip all the lectures
  3. Caught the freshman plague
  4. Stayed up till unhealthy hours just to talk to people
  5. Went to my first frat party
  6. Stood around awkwardly at a party because I didn’t know any of the songs, wishing I could go back to Seoul and karaoke with my friends instead
  7. Stayed up watching humorously bad horror movies with dormmates
  8. Argued about what love is at 3AM
  9. Formed a band with hallmates
  10. Plastered my wall with space-related postcards
  11. Spent entire afternoons napping with my roommate
  12. Broke into the roof of the biology building at night
  13. Stole a whole salt shaker from the dining hall for a better-equipped pregame
  14. Went to my first football game
  15. Went vegetarian
  16. Waited an hour in line just for some decent ramen
  17. Broke my bike
  18. Auditioned for a musical then noped out
  19. Auditioned for a play and actually stuck to it
  20. Had mimosas for breakfast with the spoken word team
  21. Let out an audible squeal when the code for my CS assignment actually worked
  22. Jumped into fountains in San Francisco
  23. Serenaded a street vendor in San Francisco
  24. Got fake married
  25. Got a job at the theater department
  26. Walked into my arts theory class to find a professional string quartet
  27. Cooked tteokboki in the slightly gross dorm kitchenette
  28. Impulsively bought tickets to a concert with rock bands I hadn’t heard of before that day (Mom Jeans, Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers)
  29. Moshed for the first time at the concert
  30. Had the best grilled cheese of my life post-concert
  31. Discovered that throwing up water is, indeed, possible
  32. Heard the words “hey, do you want to watch Bob Dylan tonight?”
  33. Went out to the field at 4 in the morning and stayed there for two hours, wrapped in a blanket, trying to see the meteor shower
  34. Crashed my bike, started tearing up, then realized I had no time for it and picked myself up with a bright smile
  35. Watched a play at Berkeley
  36. Almost actually went broke paying an unexpectedly hefty phone bill
  37. Ordered a customized mug just to help a friend tell someone to fuck off
  38. Browsed the course catalog as a means of procrastination
  39. Wiped down the dorm lounge with disinfecting wipes with my classmates as a performance art piece
  40. Teared up when I texted my mom that I was sick and she replied that she wanted to make me tuna porridge. I used to ask her to cook it whenever I was sick back home.
  41. Met artists doing transformative work in U.S. prisons
  42. Requested to view my application file
  43. Ironically made Tinder profiles with hallmates
  44. Went to a charcoal sketch workshop
  45. Was so inspired by a class reading on performance that I had to call my old theater teacher and read it to her
  46. Cried because I was so tired of coughing
  47. Drunk Alvi
  48. Biked past an irresistibly green lawn, stopped short, and lay in the sun for a good twenty minutes before realizing I had to go to class
  49. Wondered how 5 weeks had gone by so fast
  50. The Everclear Pact. If you’re curious, just ask.


Perhaps my list reads like the flashy hallmark of what the world is told about college life. Quirky, random, irreverent, the perfect mix of productive achievements and relatable failures. A potpourri of guaranteed future ‘remember-when’s. This is supposed to be the time of your life. This is supposed to change you forever. This is supposed to be the grand-slam of youth—four years of dancing in sweatpants at midnight, junk food with friends before dawn, partying one hour then applying for internships the next. We saw it in the movies, heard it in the songs, and definitely read it in the brochures.

But the uninteresting moments never make it to the list. The pathetic stories stay untold. Only the funny mishaps are advertised in a blog post about college. The truth is, even with the long list of freshman memories I’ve racked up, I’m not sure if I’m doing well here. Some days I lie in bed wondering not what I’m doing wrong, but what I might not be doing right. Which friends I haven’t made. I hear laughter down the hallway that I could probably be joining, and dig my face deeper into my pillow.

I find myself returning a hesitant “eh, alright” whenever someone asks me how it’s going. And “alright” does not lend itself to conversation. I have no gaping struggles to rant or open up about, no occasion to celebrate. “Alright” is a dead end. But “alright” is accurate. “Alright” is how it’s been for five weeks, marked by incremental pushes towards the positive or the negative. And shouldn’t I be okay with okay? Why do I feel like something is lacking, even though by definition, I have just about all I need? Is it the promise of paradise enforced by every loving high school teacher that wiped a tear and told me “you’re gonna have so much fun in college, you’re just going to bond with people in a way you haven’t before”? Every friend or underclassman that called me “exactly the type to thrive in college”?

I am starting to hate the word thrive. To thrive is not a guarantee. To thrive should not be the baseline upon which we judge our lives and accomplishments.

I doubt if anyone paid particular attention to #48 on my list, but that one sticks out to me the most. Because sometimes, I bike through main quad in the morning and let out a quiet breath in adoration of the clear sky. Sometimes, I find a random lawn to lie in, plug into some soft song, close my eyes, and feel the grass under my fingertips. And no voice in my head tells me I should be doing anything else. All is quiet. Okay is really okay. Then maybe I pick myself up and think, dear God I don’t believe in, thank you for letting me be here.