We’re running late! This thought raced through my mind as I waited for my friend’s mom to pull up to the university.
Throughout the whole trip, I had been waiting for this school. Sure the other ones were interesting to look at and it was even pretty cool to stroll around the beautiful campuses, but this was the one: The one that my parents want, the one that will grant my family prestige, and the one that will hopefully set me up for life.
Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
As we pulled up to the curb, my friend and I jumped out of the car, ready to be impressed. After ten minutes of tracking down a tour group, we slid into the scene nonchalantly to avoid disrupting the guide. As I listened to the guide’s run-through of the university’s basic facts, I took some time to take in my surroundings. There was something different about the feel of this place. Not only was the setting made more ominous by the particularly thick clouds that had decided to accompany us that day, but there was a sense of dread emanating from the walls of the old buildings. The stains of a recent rainstorm trailed down from each window, creating upside-down triangles. Someone with a vivid imagination might describe the dark watermarks as being the claws of some shadow monster extending its grasp forward to snatch up a few students. Though the setting did not inspire confidence in me, I was still optimistically eager to be convinced of why I should choose this school.
As we unconsciously dropped towards the back of the tour group, my friend leaned over and quietly whispered to me, “It’s crazy how noticeable the difference is between this school and the ones we’ve been visiting. It kind of bothers me.”
Wanting to know his take on it I asked, “What do you mean?”
“It’s just the people and the buildings… it just feels wrong. You know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” I knew exactly what he meant. To point out one of the more blatant differences, the ratio of teenagers to parents was significantly skewed toward the latter half. In most of the families, both parents, intent on their child’s future, attended the tour and even seemed to be the one’s leading the Q&A sessions. But the soon-to-be college students did not seem nearly as eager. With a glance at their expressionless faces, I imagined each teenager’s life slowly draining out of a pair of lonely eyes. I was familiar with this routine; powerful parents commanding their children with an iron grip, subduing the individuality and squeezing out the spirit.
I’m not going to lie, this sight worried me. It put some doubt in my heart. I thought to myself; what have I been chasing? What is going to happen to me here?
Then I thought again. My parents aren’t even here. Yes, I’ve been under an enormous pressure from my mom and my dad but I’ve come out stronger. That process has past and my transformation complete. I’m standing here and now, by myself (except for my friend and his mom), and I am shining like a diamond among coals, ready for the world to see me and ready to see the world.
This trip, by showing me a picture of possible future classmates, didn’t dishearten me from the prospect of my future. Rather out of the gloomy setting, I recognized that I had succeeded where others had failed. Maybe they aren’t prepared for a school like UC Berkeley, but I am ready.
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