Diary of a Fresher day five: Reflections

Freshers’ week comes to a sombre end and we are left to reflect on how we can live better and bigger this coming year.


This is the end. The weak have peeled off and limped home, the weaker have stayed in bed all day watching TV shows (guilty as charged). Those who party on cannot be human, and should be avoided at all costs.

It doesn’t feel like a wasted day. Friday is a good day for rest and reflection, and there has been a lot to reflect upon. I think that I’ve changed profoundly over the course of this week. I still feel the same: excited and terrified to start lectures, and I’m still the goofy and naïve kid that I’ve always been, but I’ve definitely shifted to suit the circumstance. I feel more tenacious, more confident, more willing to take risks.

I’m sure that a lot of my colleagues feel the same way right now. That’s what college does, after all. It develops your understanding of who you are and what you enjoy – which is more important than any qualification, I think. It’s an experience that I feel so privileged to be embarking on, especially in a place like Trinity College.

It was quite the experience, but I’m so glad that Freshers’ Week is over. It didn’t feel like an introduction, it felt like a stifling buildup to college. Like an extended drumroll before the grand reveal of whether or not your course will be enjoyable/manageable/understandable. My hopes are higher than ever, thankfully.

But it’s over, and I am so happy to be going back to my quiet country home and my eternally grumpy cat and my work in the local animal shelter, if only for a moment. If the city is full of opportunity and energy, the country is full of thoughts and ease. I think I need a balance of both to keep me functioning.

More than anything, I’m feeling sombre. A man died in the Berkeley Library today. A whole life ended in our campus as we stood outside talking and celebrating, and that’s hard to grasp. We tend to push away thoughts of death and mortality when we’re living our lives, and I don’t know why that is. We are not invincible. Not in the slightest.

I don’t think that’s a disheartening thought. Staying alive is like walking across an endless tightrope in stiletto heels. We will inevitably fall off at some point. Even the expert tightrope walkers – the 110 year olds who smoke and drink like troopers – they’ll trip up too. We can’t do this forever.

But really, it’s amazing that we’ve made it this far. The odds are stacked against us. It’s incredible that we were even born in the first place! We get so tangled up in the trivialities of life that we forget that living itself is a pretty big achievement.

My sincerest condolences to everyone who knew the man in life. I hope that it spurs you to live with renewed fervour. I hope that you find and embrace your passions, because we won’t get very many chances to.

Finally, I hope I haven’t insulted anyone with my simplistic philosophies or general silliness. Come back to me in four years. By then, I’ll have refined my thoughts into some sort of thesis, and I’ll cringe heartily at these articles. Really, though, the essence will be exactly the same.