Word From the Real World: Moshan Guo Reply

If I could only use one word to describe college, it would be serendipity. From arriving at the campus on move-in day to cramming Sociology vocabulary words at 3 a.m. to going stargazing with my friends in the middle of nowhere, freshman year at Colby College for me has been a roller-coaster of a ride.
My name is Moshan Guo, a rising college sophomore transferring to Columbia University this fall. I call myself a preparer; in the summer before entering college, I tried to prepare the best I could for this upcoming new life by ordering dorm necessities like laundry hampers or looking into classes I was interested in taking. I spent countless nights too excited to sleep because I could not wait to experience being the cool college student without curfew or parents by my side telling me what to do. But I was not prepared for adjusting to college; no one had warned me about it.
I cried through my first semester, homesick and stressed from coursework. I would go to class in the mornings, be the most active participant in class discussions, eat alone in the dining halls and then return to my dorm room, where I spent the remainder of the day doing homework and video-calling my best friend from high school. I had almost no social life on campus and instead tried to devote the rest of my time to extracurriculars like volunteering or visiting professors’ office hours.
But it was also on this lonely, quiet campus that I learned to grow, both academically and spiritually. As editors before me have emphasized, college, even after taking IB classes, is challenging. There were weeks when I would go to Miller Library right after classes to study and return to my dorm after 4 a.m. for only four hours of sleep. Although I found myself aware of what quality of work professors expected from me, living up to their expectations was often stressful. As my social circle expanded, especially since the start of the second semester, I found myself bonding with other students over the common woes we shared. There were plenty of times when several of us would work together on a study guide for Biology or help each other with editing essays for Chinese Feminism class.
The majority of you, like me, will initially find yourselves to be isolated in college. If there is one thing I regret about freshman year, it would be stepping outside of my bubble too late in the year. At one point, everyone around you will seem to be having a great time making new friends and excelling at their coursework, while you are the only one struggling to find friends or do well in class. But I promise you that the majority of the people are also struggling with you. It was only after I opened up to my new friends that I realized like me, everyone else around me was nervous about making friends and facing pressure from coursework. Once I stepped out of my bubble, I started spending a lot less time in my dorm and spent more time with friends, even if it was just studying countless hours together in the library. There were times when we impulsively decided to watch a movie at 1 a.m. despite having class the next day or drive down to Waterville for a quick meal at McDonald’s.
The point is, much of the memorable parts of my freshman year come from time spent with friends. I realized that I could get a lot more work done with the help of fellow classmates, even if it meant having endless distractions or side-conversations here and there. College is a miraculous platform in which you will find people coming from very different backgrounds who still share common interests and worries with you.
Coming back to the city for college for the next three years may be daunting; I will once again have to go through the tasks of finding new friends and integrating myself into the campus community. However, I am determined to make the best out of my experience. Freshman year has indeed allowed me to witness the highs and lows of being a college student. But most importantly, it taught me to persist.

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