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When New Year’s comes around, instead of writing a list of new year’s resolutions, I find myself putting together a list of the most memorable events in the past year. 2011’s list is by far the longest and most interesting. When I think about it, I’m not sure when I started this tradition, but the one from my freshman year — if I even did it — is nowhere near as interesting.

In a few weeks, I will be starting my last semester at Berkeley.

“Do you think your four years in college have been fulfilling?” My father asked me yesterday.
“Yes,” I replied.
I paused, then added, “I think so, but mostly these last two years.”

Looking back on it now, I especially wish that I had done more in my freshman year because I took the minimum 13 units and had so much more free time that I could have been better used for extra curriculars or socializing, but all I remember is napping. A lot.

In spring 2011, the best memories are from my study abroad in Japan. Although cut short by the Tohoku earthquake, it was an amazing and eye-opening experience. I made some lifelong friends that I look forward to seeing again someday soon. I didn’t expect to make such great friends in just those 10 weeks. As a result of studying abroad, I took summer classes for the first time so that I wouldn’t fall behind.

I think the biggest change in my yearly memories list in 2010 and 2011 is spontaneity. I grew up with the constant reminder that my grades and studying were priorities, and it was hard to break away from old habits.

The past 2 years have taught me that college is not just about books and grades. College is the time to meet people, network, make lifelong friends, try out new things, and discover what you truly enjoy and what you want to do with your life.

If a friend calls you up one night to go out to to the city, just go. 9 am class tomorrow, but you and your friend want to stay up until 5 am watching movies? Just do it. I’ll admit, there have been times where I was lazy and just wanted to stay at home instead of going to see friends, but I forced myself to crawl out from the black hole of warm blankets, tea, and endless re-blogs. In the end, I was glad because I had a great time baking too many cupcakes after midnight and meeting some new people. You never know who you will meet and the new connections you can make. No time left to study abroad? Really? Look into it more deeply and talk to people, because when else are you going to have the chance to live in another country rather than just be a tourist? Take a trip down to LA to see a friend in the middle of the week? Why not.

Yes, grades and classes are important, and finally getting that A is a great feeling, but it is still just a letter on paper and nothing like a memory, which you can look back on years later and wonder why in the world you did something that ridiculous. And laugh — because you were a college student and you could, and it is only four years in the many to come.

Photo courtesy of VOFAN via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).