A New Semester Dawns

Wow… I can’t believe a month of holidays has just gone by. Tomorrow, it’s back to the University. It’ll be the start of yet another 4 months of ransacking the library, pouring through books, books, and more books, and of course, the many cups of coffee and the many overnight marathons.

I don’t know… On one hand, I hate it. It’s stressful and just exhausting. And often-times I find myself asking myself: Why are you putting yourself through this madness? To be honest, I still don’t have a good reason why. I’ve been trying to find a good reason, but good reasons are always scarce. Somehow, whatever reasons I can think of usually crumble into dust the moment I begin scrutinising them.

Yet, on the other hand, in a very weird way, I do enjoy it. On days where I have to do an overnight essay-writing marathon, I’d have a sense of dread, and yet a big smile on my face. There’s nothing more enjoyable than sipping a nice hot cup of coffee in an air-conditioned room, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the night, while roaming around campus (or the neighbourhood) at 3am, looking for something to eat.

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A delicious cup of Starbucks Toffee Nut Latte and a gingerbread man for a midnight snack. YUM!

And when the essay’s finally done, it’d be dawn. And as I walk out of the building that I had camped overnight in, I walk out with a finished essay, while enjoying the smell of the fresh morning air, as I gaze at the magnificent sunrise before me.

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The world always seems so wonderful every time I finish an essay after an overnight marathon, and be congratulated by the rising sun for the hard work.

For some strange reason, it feels like something out of a movie whereby evil has been destroyed and the darkness begins to fade away. There’s something extremely satisfying about it. More satisfying also are the important life lessons I’ve learnt while working on my philosophy essays.

But I guess one thing that makes the whole experience really awesome is the fact that I’ve been surrounded by really awesome friends, who have been very supportive, especially when I’m super stressed out or bogged down with a myriad of assignments and readings. Last semester, I was quite unfortunate to have FIVE essays due in one week. That was the most stressful week of my life. But it was amazing how my friends came to support me as I endured 3 overnight marathons within the same week. One of my friends, knowing that I had stayed overnight in school to write an essay, came especially early in the morning just to have breakfast. That was really awesome!

Another friend gave me a box of sweets when I was in the library.

A few friends have accompanied me on my overnight marathons.

One friend went through the trouble of giving me a lift back home at 2am because I was too drained to carry on with an overnight marathon.

Yet another friend, attempting to hide under the cloak of anonymity, left a cookie on my work desk while I was away to submit an essay.

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Dear anonymous cookie-giving friend, if you are reading this, I figured out who you are. Thank you! =)

I think it’s great that despite all the moments of high stress and anxiety, in moments when I really want to give up and stop, at every moment, and at every corner (of the University), there is always someone, a dear friend, who’s cheering me on, encouraging me, and doing little things to make my day better.

It makes the bitter turmoil a lot more sweeter to endure. Thank you, dear friends, for your support, encouragement and company! They mean so much to me.

While I do not at all look forward to the flood of assignments and readings that await me from tomorrow onwards, I do look forward to the many friends that I have there.

Nonetheless, in moments of hardship, I always read a passage from Mencius (孟子) for moral support.

故天將降大任於是人也,必先苦其心志,勞其筋骨,餓其體膚,空乏其身,行拂亂其所為,所以動心忍性,曾益其所不能。人恒過,然後能改;困於心,衡於慮,而後作;徵於色,發於聲,而後喻。[…] 然後知生於憂患而死於安樂也。

Thus, when Heaven is about to confer a great office on any man, it first exercises his mind with suffering, and his sinews and bones with toil. It exposes his body to hunger, and subjects him to extreme poverty. It confounds his undertakings. By all these methods it stimulates his mind, hardens his nature, and supplies his incompetencies. Men for the most part err, and are afterwards able to reform. They are distressed in mind and perplexed in their thoughts, and then they arise to vigorous reformation. When things have been evidenced in men’s looks, and set forth in their words, then they understand them. […] From these things we see how life springs from sorrow and calamity, and death from ease and pleasure.

[Mencius(孟子), 6B35, trans. James Legge]

Let the semester begin! Game on!