Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Step Outside?

So we've reached the official conclusion of my first semester of college. It's so weird... Quite a few people have said this single semester of college has taught them more/been more enjoyable than four years of high school combined.

Hm... I wonder if I would go so far. Certainly, college is radically different. The freedom is overwhelming and almost intoxicating. You're surrounded by the types of people you've never encountered before. You're shoved into situations you've never experienced before. You're forced to think about yourself perhaps more than you ever had to before.

Now, most people know I'm notoriously lazy. SO. Instead of languishing over a reflection of my first semester at Rice University, I decided to pick some excerpts from my journal entries over the course of this first half of the school year. Should be interesting.

Brace yourself, this is going to be looooooong.

August 18, 2014: First Day of O-Week
Feels more like summer camp than anything else, to be honest. We pull in and upperclassmen are cheering and cheering; like whaaaat it's the second hour of kids moving in and they still have bucket loads of energy! Crazy stuff. Anyway, I go and do all the usual stuff, pick up my keys, take my photo, get the t-shirt etc. etc. and then successfully (!!!) navigate my way to my dorm room in this unfortunately rather old and dinky residential college (with hallway bathrooms, ick).
Anyway, we go down to the commons and get into our o-week groups. Everyone has been amazingly friendly and it's pretty awesome; I'm not nearly as nervous about like having someone to sit with or anything because of the awesome atmosphere. The whole day is packed through, though. Bonding with your group of like eight or so other students, then bonding with your 'sister' o-week group, then change for dinner and the matriculation ceremony. The matriculation, besides the very high school graduation-like experience of long speeches and lots of sitting, was incredible. There were freaking fireworks as we walked through the Sallyport archway, to raucous cheering from every which way. And those fireworks were the best I've seen in a long, long time. Some fluttered out after bursting like falling grains of rice (heh), and others billowed out like jellyfish caps. Best of all, in my opinion, was the incredible, resounding boom before every firework released, preceding the ear-splitting crack/pop. And it all echoed throughout the front courtyard. It was beautiful and very special. Sigh. I love Rice.
O-Week group: "Stitch, Don't Kill My Vibe"

August 22, 2014: Last Day of O-Week
I have to say, I am actually really nervous about "dis-orientation". Not just tomorrow, but the next few weeks, and maybe even this whole semester. Joan said that first semester was tough for her, and she's the kind of person who can be friends with literally everyone; she was indeed "friends with everyone", but was unable to make any real connection until second semester and, as a result, felt extremely alone throughout the first part of freshman year. That's actually very scary, especially since I am so not the type of person who can go and be friends with everybody. I'll just be like... lonely.

Upon reflection, though, I'm quite surprised by how much I loved O-Week. Usually, this is so not my type of thing, the whole summer campy feel and everything, but it really was amazing how they were able to make nearly everyone feel at home at some point or another. I think it was a good place to start. And I love all my advisors, and pretty much my group members too (and my sister group!), so I think they did do a good job matching people up. Upon observation, it seems that the coordinators grouped certain types of people together, and it really appears seamless for the most part.
With my cool beans O-Week brother, Tirso

August 29, 2014
So, we had House Church tonight, which is like fellowship I guess, and it was led by Daniel (Du) and Cindy; a bunch of us Jonesians went together since it was at our college (there are six other House Churches located at various residential colleges)–me, Jin Hee, Shannon, Kallen, John, and Wesley. There was another freshman named Raymond who was there, but he's from Baker and he went to Daniel's high school, so he's connected in a different way. Anyway, it was really refreshing and nice to kind of belong somewhere, and it felt very much at-home and warm and welcome. Typically in large groups, I have a hard time being myself and exhibiting actual personality traits; usually I'll clam up and over-filter so then I end up appearing somewhat bland and boring. But, since it was such a familiar environment filled with genuine people, I could actually open up comfortably. Obviously nerves lurked around but it was definitely a wonderful change. It's good to know that there are resources like that. So, I'm very grateful for Daniel and his outstretched arms (figuratively, obviously).

September 1, 2014
Staying up late is a fascinating phenomenon. At a certain point, the strenuous strain of keeping one's eyelids lifted morphs from an activity borne of leisure to one sustained by competition; at 2:30 AM, the main motivation becomes 'How long can I keep this up for? I bet I can stay up the latest.' And the words that come tumbling out of exhausted participants' mouths are a mix of ridiculous, clever (in no other situation than this godforsaken one), and undeniably hilarious. Because everything is either funny or exasperating past 3 in the morning, honestly. Today becomes tomorrow, and the day becomes either extremely late or extremely early; the revelation is that, at approximately 4:30 AM, it becomes 'early' rather than 'late.'

And at 5 AM, when some normal human beings actually awake from a 6-hour snooze, the combination of lightheadedness and floaty consciousness does not make anyone still standing (actually sitting, if one wishes to delve into the nitty gritty details) feel like a winner. Yet, group dynamics still apply, even in the dark stretches of the night-morning transition. Group dynamics are, apparently, timeless. There's the need to remain relevant in conversation, and the necessity of occasional contribution, lest one become an observer rather than a participant. And when seated within a group, it's often better to be a participant.

September 15, 2014
General updates: BHANGRA TEAM YESSS I'm so happy I made it!! But I'm super busy now... First paper due this Thursday, Thresher copy editing work to do tonight, French test on Wednesday, and a shitton of readings to complete. The one blessing today came in the form of a cancelled class, so I have a little more cushion time today. I think that's all I can remember for now. Peace out. Gonna go work now and try and ingest some caffeine to stay alert. BAI!
Awesomesauce Bhangra team (missing a few)

October 21, 2014
Rice is awesome possum, and it's been all cool beans and fun and games. Sort of. I mean I need to get my shit together and stop oversleeping (happens way more often than it should), and study more for French in particular because wow I still suck so badly at that, but so many other things have been falling into place; it's amazing. Like I'm assistant copy editor at the Thresher now?? I'm a freshman, and a total noob with journalism, and this is just too cool.

Roomie and I are way too cool, too. Like, wow I did not anticipate us becoming this close. She's so fun and it's just great to be around her. I'm glad we have such similar habits, esp. when it comes to social activity. We're both so alarmingly lazy and hungry all the time; it's both fantastic and tragic. We've fostered such bad habits in each other, but it's brilliant. It makes me laugh.

October 24, 2014
Something I've been thinking about lately: my motivations for doing certain things. For wanting to get a job, for instance (besides federal work study, of course), for striving to take 20 credit hours, for feeling this need to get involved with more clubs. I can't pinpoint exactly what the motivation is/was, but I know it's not necessarily a pure one, one that comes purely from me (à la Ayn Rand's objectivism). I know that I wasn't doing many of those things for myself, which is important to me. I just felt like I was trying to prove something to.. someone, or anyone... I don't know. It's just strange.

October 30, 2014
Well hello so I'm currently in my room... by myself... because Linda is mysteriously not present. I came back from Bhangra and she wasn't here... I imagine I made for quite the pitiful portrait because I was like studying French and singing along to "Love is an Open Door" in the room all aloney on my owney HAHA I bet it looked very, very sad indeed. I love my new Disney playlist on Spotify ahh it's the greatest. Sadly, that epic Mulan haircut song is unavailable for some atrocious reason... I never realized how freaking awesome the Mulan score was though. It's so good. That blend of traditional Chinese instrumentals and fantastic orchestration is just brilliant. It's been stuck in my head for a couple days. Actually a medley of Disney songs are just running through my head all day (errrryday) now hahaha it's ridiculous. I'll go traipsing up the stairwell singing "Almost There" and come back down singing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." If this continues, an intervention may be in order.

Also, I was SO hungry after Bhangra (killer practice oh my freaking goodness... several run throughs, plus nonstop saap rehearsing... just ugh), but I didn't want to walk all the way to Tirso/Wesley's room and get a hot pocket (plus that's unhealthy and I need to get back to better eating habits), so I've been stuffing myself with really unappealing, healthy, organic snacks... The depressing thing is, I've finished my kale chips. Yeah. KALE CHIPS. They were mango habanero and it was rather strange-tasting. Now I want them again though because I want salty things. So I ate some pistachios, but I get sick of them after a while... and then I started eating this whole grain oatmeal bar and it's actually quite good! I'm pretty sure my palette is just dead after all that healthy stuff though. That's probably why the oatmeal bar tastes good because like... It's just so healthy looking. Even the packaging... Geez, food these days... I miss chicken bake. Linda doesn't know what it is!!! Oh, the abomination... I mean, she has Costco in Florida, and somehow she doesn't know the chicken bake. I'm like salivating thinking of it now.

Also, I have decided I am not exactly the biggest fan of modernism/Virginia Woolf, and it will take a LOT of focus and a LOT of time for me to chug through Ulysses. If I ever attempt that monstrosity.

Esperanza 2014 with Wesley (editing creds to him)
November 3, 2014
Super cool Sunday service (now technically) yesterday. There was a guest speaker named Ralph... er, I forgot his last name.. But he's the founder of an organization called As Our Own, which basically aids female orphans in India who would otherwise be targeted for sex trafficking. It was really, really interesting and deeply affecting. The speaker talked about how many of those girls, in previous organizations, were basically being set up for poverty, because they would be taken care of in orphanages that were understaffed and overflowing, and then they would be taken back by extended family who would ship them off to be married at the tender age of about fourteen years; that marriage would be riddled, usually, by abuse and further poverty. Those girls were undereducated and basically given lessons only in like basket-weaving and whatnot, which, according to the speaker, was pretty much no progress at all.

Anyway, I actually paid attention the whole service; it was really engaging and definitely something I was interested in, particularly because.. I don't know, sometimes there are those thoughts where one thinks, what would have happened if I were born into a different life? Those girls can't possibly be so different from us, we who live sheltered, privileged lives on the other side of the world. Especially with the high Indian population with which I was raised, and the Indian culture I'm part of now here at Rice, it was really... I don't know. It hit kind of close to home, I guess. The primary area the speaker discussed was Mumbai, by the way. I don't know, I hope I can revisit that organization some day and do something with that, because... yeah, girls need help in other parts of the world. In MANY parts of the world.

November 6, 2014
Well, this is a salute to the end of the WORST hell week I've had in a long, long time... I think I've totaled maybe nine and a half hours of sleep? It's been absolutely terrible... OH my goodness I am so ready for the weekend. SO READY. Plus, there's no FWIS class tomorrow Yay!!! I'm going to sleep at a semi-reasonable hour tonight.. as in around 2 AM hahaha or it might turn into later, since Linda and I tend to get rather exuberant. Overly exuberant, one might say...

Ended up loving my FWIS classmates (MIA Dr. Klein!)
November 24, 2014
In FWIS on Friday, we'd read a couple essays by Zadie Smith and David Foster Wallace to get a handle on personal essay writing (because that's our final paper... 10 pages long, eek), and Zadie Smith's was about the differentiation between joy and pleasure. Reminded me of AP Lang when we talked about true happiness and all of that stuff (who was it that said that thing about pigs and whatever? I can't remember for the life of me, omg help)... Anyway, she referenced Julian (lol) Barnes, who said that basically it "hurts as much as it's worth." I just thought that the way that's put is incredibly poignant and relevant... Like that's so true, and it's phrased so perfectly. That's such a wonderfully tragic way to sum up the things that give us true joy in life... The magnitude of pain at the prospect of losing that joyous thing is indeed equal to the magnitude of its worth. I also thought that it could be interpreted to mean it's like, how much you're willing to work for that which gives you joy... you know, like a relationship, for example. A true relationship takes so much sacrifice and work and effort, and the payoff is... well, you get what you give, and vice versa, pretty much. At least, that's how it's supposed to work... hence, "it hurts as much as it's worth."

So I brought that up again in House Church since the topic was identity as followers in Christ, and... actually I kind of forgot how it relates, but I swear at the time it was relevant haha. When we did sharing and stuff, I talked about my escapist fantasies of like.. changing my identity and others' perceptions of me. I genuinely thought that I could let out that closet wild child on weekends, at the very least. But.. well, Jones party happened, and while I was slightly proud that I could pull game, there was no way I could go through with something purely hormonal and in the moment. I think way too much for that shit haha.
Dhamaka 2014: SAS Cultural Show

December 7, 2014
So! Thanksgiving break! It was quite lovely, as I spent it with Shannon's fam-bam. They're so nice and cool; it was a real blessing to have that opportunity to spend my break with them. I mean if I had stayed at Rice... that would've been a sad time. A very sad time indeed. Not much else to report, though we did stop by San Antonio for an evening and saw THE ALAMO omg it was too cool. I have to go back to San Antonio sometime next year or something, and during the daytime so I can actually go inside. That's so awesome.

After Thanksgiving break... well, I got back on Saturday, so a day before Linda (most people came back on Sunday) and it was quite interesting having the room all to myself for a whole evening. I guess it wasn't that strange since she does spend some nights over at El Boyfriend's place, but it has a different like feeling when she's in a different state, you know? So yeah that was that... And then she came back and I was very happy! We went and studied together outside before it got too windy, and then we came back and watched not just one Hunger Games movie, but TWO. Oh dear. We were way out of control that day lol the procrastination struggle was too real. It was super nice though, I actually missed her quite a bit over break. I missed Rice...

Hm, I told Shannon that, and she was like, "Yeah, it's tough. When we're at Rice we miss the people back home, but once we're home, we miss the people at Rice. Wherever you go, there's always someone who means something to you who's somewhere else." Weirdly profound... it'll just get worse as we continue to grow older... I mean when are all the people you care about going to be all in the same place again? I thought maybe your wedding, but.. Hm. Just something very... sobering. I guess.

December 12, 2014
Okay hellooooo it is Friday! But somehow it doesn't feel like a Friday... I dunno. Because there were no classes this week soooo.. every day was a weekend? I have no idea lol it feels so weird. Anyway! I'm hungry even though I ate lunch like an hour and a half ago. I am concerned for my tummy. So yesterday... Oh man I did nearly nothing yesterday. I watched a bunch of Buzzfeed videos instead of studying, and then I ate dinner... and then I went to see Christmas lights at the zoo with Wesley! The Christmas lights were kind of disappointing... Vasona Lake (back home) is so much better... and San Jose's Christmas in the Park is far more impressive. I don't know what it was; maybe the lights were too spread out, and maybe the decor was a bit lazy, it just overall wasn't very dazzling.

And then I came back, watched some more Buzzfeed videos, then watched Game of Thrones when Tirso returned haaaaa yesssss. As usual, Tirso had his very unnecessary commentary at the ready and at one point he was like, "Where are the subtitles?! I need my subtitles!" and Miguel was so funny, he was like "Why don't you just shut up and listen?" ahh so great. But I'm happy now Linda's interest has been piqued and she wants to watch more of Game of Thrones yay the kingdom is expanding!

December 16, 2014
I miss Cali so much..

Lol I think I'm going to go back and look at my old entries now.. It's just interesting, we've come pretty far hahaha I honestly didn't expect much of this.

Oki bye.

*Thank you, Rice. I think this is the best I could have asked for.