Junior year. Can hardly believe it. It feels a little imposter-y to say this out loud because I never fully graduated from being a sophomore, at least in my head. It’s not like the fall semester has actually started yet, but I lost all sense of the inevitable passage of time about (*checks the date*) three months ago, ever since I decided to stay on campus over the summer doing research for iGEM. 

I can confirm: The Rochester depression is a real thing. The issue is, I never left Rochester. Even when I did physically — for a two-weeks maximum vacation home back to Jersey because I was about two matcha lattes and a 57-item to-do list away from insanity — I didn’t mentally. So, I’m hoping that the new semester will be a much-awaited fresh start. (Spoiler alert: it won’t. It’s Hell Year. It only gets worse.)

This summer has been one of a lot of firsts — I made a bulleted list. Why? To convince myself that if I’ve survived what I deem pretty damn miserable, I can really do anything. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Before this summer, never have I ever:

  1. Gotten 22 mosquito bites in one night.
  2. Hauled an enormous wok and tote bags crammed with half a week’s worth of groceries by hand to another building (because my dorm didn’t have a kitchen) to meal-prep six portions of lunch for my minifridge, only to realize a couple days later that I have to do this again for the whole summer.
  3. Gone weeks without eating real Asian food (and genuinely feared that my spice tolerance would decrease as a result, because that IS a real thing).
  4. Spent 40 hours editing a two-minute promo video for iGEM because I’m no longer an engineer but an animator apparently. Finger cramps, three pep talks, and maybe five meltdowns later, it’s still not finished. SMH.
  5. Spent hours tracking cells, because this is what my life has come to.
  6. Failed a lab experiment five times before realizing the reagent I was using was of the wrong brand, and therefore the wrong molecular weight, and therefore wrong, period. (Before knowing this, my self-esteem plummeted.)
  7. Missed the Green Line shuttle for four weeks in a row, which made me decide that despite my attempts to get off campus for recreational purposes, grocery shopping cannot be one of them.

During the summer I learned a lot, other than confirming that my blood type is delicious and that Instacarting groceries is the new way to go. 

First, I learned that cooking isn’t as hard as people make it out to be — it’s just time-consuming. 

Second, lower your standards. For everything. This was originally meant to be about cooking edible food, but if you apply this philosophy in life, you will be less likely to be disappointed by people you had high hopes for (and thus be happier overall). 

Third, it’s okay to end up like me and take up impromptu residence in a space that definitely is not made to sustain human life. If you catch me on the UR Slumped Instagram account passed out in the Digital Media Lab in Rettner 201, it’s just that it’s my new home. So this will be my third time moving dorms in, say what, three months? That’s a new record. And now that I think about it, each move was more of a downgrade than the last (Genesee to Gilbert to the Digital Media Lab), so this is really saying something.

Lastly — and please note I’m not paid to say this — but the matcha powder by Rishi at Wegmans tastes virtually the same as the Starbucks matcha. Thought at least someone would like to know.

I feel pretty good about this year. I’ve been at this university for two and a half years. Not to say I’ve seen it all — because believe me, each time you think you have, this school will find ways to surprise you — but I feel decently prepared. 

That was a lie. I’m absolutely terrified. But what can I say? The more sleep-deprived I am, the more delusional I get.



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