Graduation is on Sunday. Come the end of the day May 20th, I will be leaving Brandeis quite possibly for good, with a Bachelor of Arts in History and East Asian Studies. I don't quite know how to feel about that, to be honest. Now that the day has finally come, it feels almost anticlimactic. Kind of like, what really is different now? Come Monday morning, what will honestly have changed in my life?
There really isn't any one moment I can point to and say "this is the turning point". Unless you want to count an entire year (my junior year spent abroad in Japan, specifically) as a turning point, and I would tend not to. A college education isn't any different in my opinion - it's not like having a piece of paper evokes some magical change on my day-to-day existence, even if it is a piece of paper people recognize as a diploma. It will open doors and say something about who I am to potential employers, and I am grateful for that much. I don't regret getting a college education; indeed, I'm glad I did.
And I can point to so many things that the last four years have done for me. If nothing else, there's the Japanese. I went into college knowing not a word of the language, and I leave it having passed the N2 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test intending to use my skill with the language as a key focus for my career. It's a little hard to believe today that I thought Japanese would just be a hobby for me, now that it's become something approaching a defining passion of my life. (That reminds me, I need to put more translations of things up here on my blog... I've been not doing that lately.)
Plus, the people I met. Oh yes. It is kind of sad to think that I might not see some of these people... well, ever again, possibly. Unfortunately, I doubt that any of my job prospects are going to keep me in the Massachusetts area. In between the club activities I participated in and the friends I made along the way, there's a real argument to be made for actually finding a reason to stay in this area! (Which actually wouldn't entirely help, since several of my friends are also going off to do their own things...) Certainly, compared to high school, I feel like I was able to form some semblance of a social life here.
Long story short, college life is coming to an end for me. I am reaching the end of the marked-out paths, the culturally expected route to adulthood, and the time has come for me to start making my own path. And there's definitely a sense of trepidation and uncertainty at that. But so be it - in the grand play of my life, the curtain falls on act I. And feeling uncertain about what will come in act II won't stop it coming, all the same.