From preschool to high school we have been conditioned to a pretty standard daily routine. Wake up too early, go to school, participate in any extracurriculars, have fun with friends/hobbies, stay up too late, repeat. Then comes the game changer: college.
College, a time to finally stay up too late and sleep in because your first class isn’t until after lunch. A time when you decide when to eat, what to eat, who to eat with. Graduating high school was that finish line to now finally becoming an adult!
While college is definitely a change from high school, I like to think of it as an adulting playground. Sure, we get more freedom than the strict 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. structure from before, but it just turns into more of a noon to 7 p.m. (or 11 p.m, or 2 a.m…) time of going to classes and working on assignments. We finally get more freedom to eat whatever and whenever, but the meal swipes essentially dictate our meal periods and options of where to eat. I know there is obviously more to college than just going to classes and eating, but my point still stands.
All of this isn’t to say college isn’t fun. It’s the most fun I have ever had! I mean, who doesn’t like the sound of an adulting playground? By my junior year, I felt I had learned a lot about being an adult and wanted to push myself even more, so I decided to spend a semester in Hong Kong. I packed up my bags and moved across the world to a country where I didn’t know the language and aimed to find my place. I came back from my time abroad feeling like a changed person. I have seen the world and have the knowledge to tackle any obstacles that come my way!
Graduation is right around the corner and, for the past few months, I’ve had a strange feeling in the back of my mind. I realized that for the first time in my life I am confused. When I was living with my parents, I always knew that the worst-case scenario is that I would need to ask them to help me sort out any predicament I find myself in. When I moved into my dorm at NC State, I had a residential advisor, professors with office hours, and the Goodnight pro staff to turn to if anything wasn’t going the right way. Even during my semester abroad, I had the Study Abroad Office here and at my host university to make sure everything was okay.
As I start to plan my life after college, I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind: figuring out what all I will need when I move across the country, thinking about what my daily routine will be, wondering who will help me if everything goes wrong, etc. Honestly, I have been purposefully not thinking about these things because I’m not quite sure what the answers are. There isn’t an orientation, a residential advisor, or any sort of “safety net” anymore.
I have kept myself preoccupied and distracted from these thoughts by planning a two-month backpacking trip through Asia. At first, I was trying to make this trip a mini “Study Abroad 2.0,” but then I slowly realized that it won’t be that. There won’t be a dorm for me to go back to between my weekend excursions, there won’t be some sort of routine from my class schedule, there won’t be any factors for me to consider aside from the money in my wallet.
Instead, I have started to embrace this trip after graduation as a time for me to see how I am in an environment with no safety net. Hopefully what I’ll learn during this time will help me for when I move to Chicago and start my full-time job at Deloitte Consulting.
I know you may be reading this and thinking, “What is the key takeaway? What did Nishant learn from all of this?” The fact of the matter is, I don’t know. I am not entirely sure what challenges I will be faced with, what my personality will grow into, what to expect. You know when you think about your upcoming schedule and have a general idea of what is happening? Aside from a handful of things, I can only think of a big red question mark. Even the simplest of things such as what city I will be spending my week in are unknown to me right now, since I’ll be backpacking over the summer and my work requires me to travel to clients in different states every week.
Every aspect of my time here, starting from the first day on campus with the Goodnight Scholar’s Summer Retreat to the last day when I throw my graduation cap in the sky, has helped me mature and open my eyes to the world around me. The only thing I can say with confidence is that I know the “adulting playground” I have been living in the past four years has instilled in me the skills and given me the experiences I will need to set out into the world and be the best version of myself. And for that very reason I say thank you NC State, for everything.