Arriving at Emory freshman year was like entering a new world. Freshman year immediately throws you into situations that are entirely uncomfortable and irresistible at the same time—being surrounded by strangers who will become lifelong friends, taking classes in subjects that you have never even thought about, and developing a sense of community and discovery that in themselves feel like magic. This voyage of both self-discovery and knowledge accumulation make the college experience a story I will remember forever.
There are stories that will be exaggerated to a point that they no longer represent reality. Like the time a friend and I broke into another hall mate’s room and switched his muscle milk with flour (they look almost identical in case you were wondering), or the time we invited our super hot Spanish professors out for a beer—and they said yes. These experiences helped me realize not to take life too seriously and always ask even if you expect a no.
College would not be an adventure if there were not struggles along the way. During freshman year I decided to take a computer science class. I was extremely unfamiliar with the material and did not even know how to go about preparing for it. By the end of the semester, when finals time came, the professor decided that too many people in the class were getting A’s. The final required that we write an entire program by hand, which was something no one in the class was familiar with. I think the final was ten pages long…and I left five pages blank. I walked out of the final and cried. The average on the test was a 24. Looking back on the experience, it made me feel what failure felt like and made me want to never feel that way again.
Another difficult moment I faced at Emory was the decision about whether or not to go abroad. The choice was a very difficult one to make. I had to balance leaving what I was comfortable with and knew I enjoyed with an immersive experience in another country that the outcome was unknown. The decision about going abroad was one of the best decisions I made at Emory. Going abroad made me appreciate Emory more, and provided me with a well-rounded perspective of the world - something that is so easy to ignore in today’s society. This experience has also made me more comfortable with reaching outside my comfort zone.
Sometimes college can be unpredictable and unsympathetic, but it is also sometimes magical. These magical moments—when an extra help session turns into a heated discussion about the future of the entire European Union, when a quiet night in turns into a night I cannot write about in this article if I want to graduate—these moments are what make realize that college is an extended 4-year adventure. But like all adventures, it must come to an end. The future represents another adventure that I am now more prepared for thanks to my experiences (both successes and failures) at Emory.
Jason Katz graduated from the College in May 2012.