Letters from the dorm: Freedom isn't free, it comes with a price

Letters from the dorm: Freedom isn't free, it comes with a price

April Xu Xiaoyi discovers freedom in abundance in her first year in university, and also that it comes with many different price tags

Greetings from a first-year student studying at PomonaCollege in the Golden State of California. I’m writing this letter to you from my college dorm. As that brief information may suggest, I have gone through a major transition in life by embarking on a new journey: college.

College embodies freedom: the liberty in course selection and scheduling events outside the classroom for ourselves, and adventures in a new geographical region with fascinating new friends.

This freedom that college offers also comes with a price. After all, nothing is entirely free. Even Daylight Saving Time (a brand new concept for me), which gives the illusion that we get a free extra hour, demands that we must eventually pay it back next spring.

Living away from home has meant that I need to make more decisions on my own. Instead of going to class at a fixed time every morning, I now get to design my own academic and extracurricular schedule.

Do I want to be a morning person? Should I skip breakfast to finish this assignment prior to today’s office hours? Do I go to the contra-dance today or should I choose to write this article for South China Morning Post? I had considered these kinds of questions prior to college, but certainly not as frequently.

There is always a diversity of enticing events, exponentially more than the range of activities offered back in high school, but I can’t do them all. Although freshman year is about exploring everything that college has to offer, I need to find a balance between academics, sleep, and social / general non-academic life. So I constantly find myself indecisive, carefully weighing the tradeoffs of each option.

Often, the decision process has taken much time, energy, and thought. But I have gradually learned to become more decisive, staying steadfast in adhering to my personal principles. Although classes only started two months ago, I can already track my personal growth as a learner and also as a young adult.

The college experience has so much freedom to offer, but it demands a price. It simultaneously demands effective planning and personal determination. 

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Freedom comes with a price


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