“It’ll go by so fast, trust me,” a past exchange student told me back in April. It was a throw-away comment, a cliche – something I heard so often that I didn’t really know how to interpret. I clearly didn’t take their comment sincerely enough.
My experience of traveling exponentially faster through time began from thanksgiving. Typical of the diversity found in Queens, the thanksgiving dinner spent with my dorm-room neighbour was a delicious mix of Puerto Rican-Italian-American. Vegging out in front of the football was the only way to comfortably digest.
Black Friday shopping with my other neighbour in White Plains, partying in Manhattan and amazing Thai food in Park Slope tied up this week-long pre-break before finals week.
Dreaded finals week. I guess I was aimlessly wandering around the few weeks before because I wasn’t anywhere near ready. This is when people you normally see out no longer venture any further than their room or the library.
“I’ll have it all done by Wednesday,” I promised myself. I just needed one more essay done by Friday, the last day of college. The final 24 hours of my semester went a little something like this:
- Friday 16th December, 10:34am – Return from a hungover breakfast to finish my film theory paper, due by midday.
- 12:05pm – Out of breath and sick to my stomach from running to submit my paper, I’m feeling elated. One final workout at the gym before it closes, then lunch.
- 2:47pm – The five cups of coffee are still working, but not enough to counter my procrastination of packing my bags. I decide my time is best spent with some friends I may not ever see again.
- 7:30pm – A farewell supper at the Red Sun. Seared Ahi tuna with a cold soba noodle and beetroot salad. Ommegang Rare Vos to wash it down. Yes.
- 9:48pm-2:18am – The bars.
- Saturday 17th December, 2:42am-? – Crazy antics with the people I’ve grown to love in my residence hall.
- 8:32am – Gladly woken after just a couple of hours of sleep, my room is a mess and I haven’t packed a single thing. We have to get out by 10am.
- 10:18am – I’m checked out, somehow. After breakfast, the few of us who still remain say our final goodbyes. Emotion is raw but we manage to stem most of it off with promises that we’ll see each other again. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil. An overdue trip to Europe. An imminent professional life in New York for myself someday.
What you get out of the exchange experience comes down to how much you put in. Thanks to my friends, professors and fellow exchange students at SUNY Oswego, I’m wholeheartedly satisfied with my semester abroad.