So I am writing this from the comfort of my house, now that finals have concluded. I could not help thinking something on my way back from this hard semester. Thriving does not always mean happy, but being perseverant.

Aside from overloading myself with 5 courses, 3 jobs, involvement in 2 clubs, participated in a dance performance, wrote a short story, and applied for a fellowship, I also had problems with friends, my niche sort of destabilized, and I was challenged to get out my comfort zone and go and find, rekindle, or sort of cultivate other friendships.

I wish I could tell you that sophomore year gets better only because you’ve already tried the waters for two previous semesters before. But, new year, means new dynamics and changes. A few of the people you probably met during freshman year, they have gone—transferred to other schools. You suddenly live somewhere else—one mistake I committed, was going to live on my own—although I sort of appreciated it in the end. If you have the opportunity to live with others, perhaps in a suite or something, I would suggest you do that because you are only going to find yourself needing to get out more, to encounter other people. Notwithstanding, if you are the type who constantly likes to be by him/herself, that’s fine too.

I could also describe this semester as taking a pill, that even though you hate its bitter taste, you have to swallow it, in order to get better and move on. Well, this semester, my classes were mostly about taking requirements, either university or major requirements, and that made my semester miserable because they were not the most exciting classes or subjects.

My main reasoning to why I tend to overload myself, is because I want to secure my future. As a first-generation student, I need more than academics. I need to have a strong network and a strong work experience, in order to be more marketable. It’s also an internal fear of what if I ever find myself jobless or in a situation of that sort. I do feel that rest is a luxury that I cannot permit myself now, but I think about the future and that allows me to continue pursuing my dreams without thinking much about the sacrifices I am making.

Even though the semester was tough, I am glad I got through it and, as I said, thrived through it. Also, in the midst of Trump’s election, I was feeling quite blue, but being surrounded by other people that were able to comfort me, it was validating. I decided to pursue a special minor that only Brandeis offers, which it is called Social Justice and Social Policy. I am considering that aside from my love for literature, I could also go into politics. I really do want to contribute to my society in some way and I want to explore the different possibilities of what I could do once I finish with school.

In fact, I applied for a fellowship that focuses on finding internships about social justice, I guess relatively similar to the one I applied last year, nevertheless, this fellowship, will also train in different aspects about how to be a contributor to the cause(s) I, and other applicants, are so invested in. I am just not very sure whether I’ll obtain it or not, since it is quite competitive, but whatever needs to happen, will happen.

But this winter break, I am going to work on applying for other internships and do my study abroad application because, despite loving Brandeis for making me challenge myself every single day, I also recognize that I need a break from it at some point. Although, studying abroad will not come into a realization until January of 2018—thus, there is still a long way to go before it.

All I want to do this break is self-care, also with a little bit of work, and be renovated for new exciting challenges and experiences next spring semester. I do treasure, though, everything I have been able to learn and explore in this year and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

In addition, I am also eager to meet the family of my donor. It turns out my donor is, or was, Bob Simon—he was a reporter for CBS’s 60 Minutes and he established a scholarship for one Brandeis’ student. Well, that lucky recipient is me. It turns out that he and I were born on the same date, May 29th (although fifty years apart), and his daughter, who I am also going to meet, and she is one of the 60 Minutes’ producers, completed one of the majors I am doing, which is Comparative Lit. I will get to meet his family this upcoming January; we are perhaps going on a tour around CBS and then lunch or dinner, depending on the timing. Sadly, Mr. Simon passed away in a car accident and I will not be able to meet him.

The semester was challenging, but it made me realize that, despite what it is happening in your life, you cannot let those problems take over your life and affect negatively the rest, such as academics. More than ever you need to grasp tightly to your dreams and hopes. The real friends will show up, trust me—that happened to me. Oftentimes you need to be a little in discomfort just in order to finally find a comfortable position.

Happy holidays everyone and a happy New Year!

Truly yours,