One of the things that I’ve appreciated most about being at university is how much freedom one is given to choose how they spend their time and energy. College can be whatever you want it to be. You can start and join RSOs, take part in research and internships, play sports, and/or focus on your personal growth and fulfillment. College, after all, is a time to find yourself and explore your identity. Whatever you decide to do, it is important to remember that your opportunities are endless and you can always change your path.
When I was in high school, I was constantly wary of social and academic pressure from others. I cared greatly about getting into the colleges of my choice and wanted to be at the top of my class. I saw what other stand-out students were doing and followed suit. I joined some honors societies, started a club, had a job, volunteered, and took as many AP classes as possible. I practiced conformity and ended up not knowing who I really was. While I take comfort in knowing that many students did the same, I am very thankful that I’ve left that mindset behind and spent the past two years growing into myself.
Back when times were simpler, I used to plop down on the couch with my Nintendo DS and my troubles would melt away as I became completely absorbed in catching Pokémon or destroying zombies with my botanic army. I had a tiny world in the palm of my hands, filled to the brim with memorable characters, dazzling worlds, and soundtracks that pull on my heartstrings to this day. Some time last year, I decided to buy a Nintendo Switch Lite for myself in an effort to replicate the simple joy I had as a child while playing DS games. I had acquired my Switch Lite at a time where I was at the end of my rope trying to survive a global pandemic and go through college online. Social media was no longer cutting it as an escape route; too often it bombarded me with the endless deluge of tragedy occurring every day, tiring me further when I needed rest. So, I decided to take a cue from my childhood, and once again plop down on the couch with a cozy video game rather than scroll mindlessly through my phone. Though I was turning to video games to forget my troubles, I could find myself relating to the struggles that my video game characters had to go through, and in some ways it helped me to cope with my own while in college. Out of all of the games that I have played, none has showcased this more than the game Celeste.
The morning sun greets you from its climb in the sky as you exit the train station, backlit by clear blue skies and seagulls circling overhead. You don’t even have to think as the click of your boots on the pavement guide you across the street to a small storefront with an orange awning. As you cross the threshold, an 8-bit rendition of “Für Elise” announces your presence to the display case of croissants, torsades aux pommes, chocolate muffins, and other treasured pastries. And there, before you and your friends can take a half-step further into the bakery, the owner excitedly walks out from the back kitchen exclaiming, Les filles! Bonjour, les filles! and ushering the cashier away so she can select our pastries for us with a grin.