Beginnings, endings, and other things


Photo by Dorothy Wollenshlager.

Beginnings always bear something uncertain about them. The thrill of the unexpected is often met with the fear of the unexpected.

There is a type of beginning that is distinctively particular in the thrill that it generates, but also on the uncertainty it produces: the beginning of an end.

For us taking on the last year of university, we often wonder on the time that has passed and on what is to come. Past experiences and memories get enhanced in an effort to figure out how to best spend the last year at university.

One of the best ways to figure out how to end a phase is to go back to its beginning.

Checklists or to-do lists are not sufficient to figure out how to best take on the last year.

If anything, those lists restrict our freedom and generate a level of disillusionment, as many of those tasks may not be completed towards the end of the year.

A more holistic and simple perspective is perhaps a better choice. Instead of making checklists of what remains to be done on the last year, it is perhaps wiser to wonder why we came to university in the first place, what we set out to accomplish, and how much we diverted from that path and why.

In a way it is as our dear professors often predicate: if you ask the wrong questions, you will probably get the wrong answers.

For those who will soon start university for the first time, I guess being open towards change is an extremely useful skill to have.

Sometimes things do not occur as expected or planned. However, if we make our fundamental reasons for being in university clear then it is easier to mould our experiences towards having a successful time here.

Success is another often used word. It has a plethora of different meanings, which is in reality an excellent thing. The fact that success is flexible and takes on diverse shapes, allows us to have different versions of what it means.

By virtue of being an international student, another dimension is added. The beginning of an end is also met with the decision of once again moving to a different destination, or perhaps not.

This also applies to domestic students, since finishing university will often entail moving to another geographical location in the country.

This is where reverse culture shock comes into play. Those who return to their homes, both domestically and abroad, have a new way of looking at things. It may be the case that not much has changed, but it is certainly true that we have.

Culminating a transformative experience, such as four years in university, definitely changes your understanding of life.

Perhaps we are used to seeing the new and to continuously changing, but going back to what was left behind sometimes may be harder than it seems.

The same faces and places are met with a transformed self. This self sometimes struggles to understand the dynamics of those places since we look at them from a different point of view.

Being aware and reflexive about these issues enhances the way we take on our last year of university.

In an effort to what is commonly described as “make the most of it” we have to be conscious of what that actually means.

Is it to cross every check on the to do list? Or is it to go back and contemplate how our past years have diverted from our expectations at the start?

In a way, the beginning of an end is no more than an opportunity to transform that end into the start of something new.