Something happened in year three

We cupped our ears and squinted our eyes; the horrendous din was reminiscent of a ghoulish scene from Dante’s Inferno

That’s what it felt like as my friends and I returned to NTU to do some admin work after our graduation in August. We looked at the freshmen in their camps and had this moment of sage-like wisdom: “Ah freshmen, how little they know…” Then it dawned on us: four years ago we were in those same freshmen camps.

Something happens as you transition from being a freshman to a sophomore (year two) then a junior (year three) and finally a senior student (year four).

Suddenly, what used to fascinate you as freshman or sophomore doesn’t intrigue you anymore. Other things become more interesting and you find that freshmen start to look at you like some wise, old person. Secretly, behind your wizened demeanour, you marvel at how they can stay up till 4am and not be absolutely burned out the next day. You are amazed at how they can shout and scream and run and still have so much energy. You are amazed at the muscle-ripping figures they have, and wonder whether you ever looked that ripped in your prime. Don’t look as if you don’t know what I mean (especially the guys)! By year three or four you probably started building a tummy pillow around your waist, which I’ve always had. Well, at least I maintained the rest of my figure.

As you move from year two to three, the conversation topics begin to change too. The chatter is less about schoolyard politics and more about finding a path in life. As you enter year four, the conversation turns to the job hunt, and after your Final Year Project, your batch mates start to ask if you’ve found a job. Conversation shifts to job specifications and job expectations. You worry about your CV and whether your resume is good enough. Some start worrying about bills and student loans. Out come the Excel spreadsheets and the budget plans; how much you can spend, how much debt can you pay off, when will you finally be able to pay off everything? Some of your batch mates who seemed too serious in the past now seem wise. You read the success stories of young entrepreneurs and get a little depressed. How did the years fritter away?

Many blog posts are written for freshmen or graduates but few are written for those right in the middle of their years at university. So here’s a shout-out to all you people who’ve made that transition from kid to adult but are still undergrads – you may feel too old to be really involved in school-things but too young to be a working adult. If you’ve reached that stage and feel a little uncomfortable about it, just know that many people have gone through the same thing and understand what you’re going through.

The awkward “in-between” years are awesome. You feel so comfortable at university, but you’re itching to go a little bit further. Don’t let fear hold you back – go that little bit further and do those things you want to do. Life for you, my friend, has just started. Go get it!