I decided to start my college career because all my friends were doing it and my family expected it from me. All of my friends in high school wanted to go to college, which inspired me to pursue it as well. Being surrounded by that all the time, it felt like the only option after high school. So, I spent years working toward college, getting good grades and leading organizations to make my parents proud. 

My parents committed years of their time and energy into emigrating from Mexico to the United States with aspirations for me to succeed. They traveled from the southernmost state of Mexico all the way to the Texas border. Then they traveled throughout the southern American states and settled in Atlanta to meet with others in our family. 

The entire journey was scary for them, because they had to trust a stranger to give them safe passage to the U.S. over the course of a week.

When they eventually settled in Georgia, my dad had to find a job in Atlanta to support himself and my mom. They planned to start a family soon after they got their footing in order to provide my younger sister and me with a life of modern amenities such as the internet, so we could thrive in the increasingly technological globalized world. 

Though they didn’t force me to take on their plans for me, their journey pushed me: They had done all the work of ensuring I had a bright future in the U.S., and I didn’t want to disappoint them.   

Even though I spent high school working hard to do the best I could and ensure I went to a good college, I didn’t have a concrete plan of what to do when I finally got here. Initially, I just knew I wanted to go to a school out of state to push myself out of my comfort zone and experience new things. 

I decided to move to Massachusetts and attend Brandeis because it seemed like a small, supportive school where I could learn more about the world in a safe environment. I liked that competitiveness wasn’t a big thing here and that everyone seemed to be trying to help each other do their best. 

Now that I’m ending my junior year and getting ready to transition to the last year of my academic career, the reality of everything is catching up to me. 

The past semester has felt like a blur: Everything’s moving slowly now as I finish finals and pack my boxes for the last summer of my college career. When interacting with other people from the class of 2024, I realize that they seem more excited about their final year than I am. They’re starting to plan for jobs after college, working on their senior thesis, and chatting about their plans for the future. 

But I’m just tired — tired of the stress of school. Especially after this spring’s events and being unable to live on campus in the fall, I’ve become so disappointed with Brandeis that spending another year here sounds exhausting. 

The exhaustion of this past semester, in combination with my first year being the “COVID year,” made me ambivalent about my college journey. During my first year of college and senior year of high school, I didn’t experience the fruits of my labor. 

The four years of high school where I worked hard to achieve the most I could ended with stacks of assignments and Zoom calls — no prom, no graduation, and no catharsis for all the stress I accumulated over the years. When I got to Brandeis, almost every student on campus was utterly isolated from each other and the world. I never got the chance to establish footing for myself here, so everything feels so far away. 

However, as I transition into my final year of school, I’m hopeful. During my first and second years, I didn’t have the opportunity to engage with the community on campus, so I stayed almost completely isolated. 

However, during my junior year, I got involved in clubs like the Campus Activities Board and Gen 1 to be around other people like me. I’ve been able to carve out a place for myself and feel more fulfilled. Though I’m partially dreading another year of school, I’m excited to see what else is coming. 

As I see some of my friends in the class of 2023 graduate and move on to the subsequent phases of their lives, I’m becoming inspired to start thinking the same. Though some of them are worked up about getting all their arrangements together for commencement and finalizing their courses, overall, they seem relieved. I can’t wait to be the same in a year. 

Though I’ve had a turbulent time at Brandeis, I’m happy I’ve been able to experience it. I’m proud of my accomplishments academically and within the campus community. It’s allowed me to make my family proud because, in 2024, I will be the first in my family to achieve a college degree. I can’t wait for the looks on their faces and the relief I’ll feel when everything’s over.