Name: Jonathan Mo
Year: Class of 2019
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Intended Path of Study: Neuroscience and Saxophone Performance
“So why’d you bring your calculus textbook to Haiti?!”
As I’m helplessly sifting through long forgotten methods and rules of limits and optimization, I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the question. The truth is, I have a math placement exam coming up before I leave back to California, and there’s NO way that I’m taking first year calculus ever again.
It was the middle of June, and I was with a group of my friends on a medical trip to Jacmel, Haiti. Whenever we weren’t working at the clinic, we had a lot of down time so everyone usually just socialized, hung around, or played with cards. But of course there was killjoy me, trying to frantically study in the corner with pencil and paper in hand, hopelessly mulling over mathematical gibberish.
Three days later, the day the placement exam is due, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. It’s 9 PM (the only time at which I’ll have an undisturbed 3-hour block to take the test), and I’m in a rundown outdoor lobby with a fully charged laptop and an alert mind. I open up Blackboard and suddenly:
Screw you, T-Rex.
I close Chrome and retry.
Unable to connect to the Internet.
Ok, fine. Let’s try again. And again. And again.
That night, I had the most wonderful time playing T-Rex Runner for hours on end. And as I watched the test deadline slowly slip away, I falsely reassure myself that I’m okay, because at least I had a damn good time playing T-Rex Runner for the past three hours.
So the next morning, I e-mail my academic counselor (who, by the way, is amazingly helpful and all-around awesome) and I’m told that June 22nd isn’t a hard deadline.
What a relief.
The next time I open up Blackboard is another four days later in the comfort of my own home and with stable Internet at 4:45 PM. No dinosaurs? Good. You’ve done your job, Chris Pratt.
A series of mathematical questions pop up before my eyes, and I’m feeling pretty good! The answer to this one’s C, and this one’s E.
But after about three minutes later, the above screen pops up and I’m stunned out of my mind.
What. just. happened.
To this day, I still don’t know what happened after those short three minutes. All I know is that I must have gotten those two lone questions I answered wrong, because I ended up getting a solid 0/45. But despite my anticlimactic failures and over-the-top anxiety, everything still ended up being okay because I finally found out that the test score was just a ‘recommendation’.
Moving forward from this seemingly petty experience has told me a little bit more about how I should be approaching all the new things to come in the Fall:
Most importantly, I need to relax. There’s no need to obsess over every little thing, because there are way too many little things to obsess over. And if I do, I’ll overwhelm and tear myself apart. (I think this particularly applies to frantically checking every single notification I get from the Class of 2019 group, but they end up being pictures of memes or Nicholas Cage.) There’s no doubt that everyone is feeling at least a little antsy, because after all, none of us know what we’re really doing. We’re all just a bunch of upcoming adults struggling to figure it out along the way, right?
Second, while I should probably have a better plan of action before I dive head-first into the unknown, it might be better to take some things as they come. It’s interesting how we know that some things are completely out of our control, yet we still beat ourselves up over it. Things (usually) have a way of working themselves out, and while hardships are temporary, the habits we create when we face them are near permanent. Sometimes we can only do all we can do and accept that that’s our best.
At the end of the day, I’ve come to learn that it’s all about the perception of our actions, and how we take them to be. So to the many T-Rex’s I’m sure I’ll come to encounter in the near and far future, let’s go for a run.