By Jennifer Sung
The moment I stepped foot onto our campus, three things stood out in bright Cardinal and Gold colors: anticipation, ambition, and anxiety. From day one, freshmen students are dropped into a rabbit hole filled with many other competitive and goal-driven individuals who’ve come to college prepared and ready to foremost play hard and of course, study hard. However, amongst the crowd, I felt different about college. As a first generation Korean American, born and raised in Los Angeles, going to a prestige university was a privilege: a dream come true.
However, with no schooling experience in my familial background, I struggled a bit on knowing what I wanted from my college experience. My cultural background roots deeply within South Korean and Argentinian culture, for my parents were both born in South Korea but then immigrated to Argentina at elementary school age. As a lower-class family , my parents managed to support and care for me and my younger sister, pushing us to strive for more, even though we had so little. They always reminded us to FIGHT ON! Unlike the stereotypical Asian American household, where the motto is “To be a doctor or not to be a lawyer”, my parents were different. By giving us the freedom and the right amount of push a child needs to strive for her goals, my parents helped shape us into what we truly wanted to be.
So, college was the trial and error stage of my life– where I once was the puppet of the scene, I am now the puppeteer of my play. In freshmen year, the ambitious part of me wanted more friends, more attention, more academic success, and mostly more sleep. To live up to the motto to “FIGHT ON”, I strove to join many organizations and jobs to widen my options for the perfect community and lifestyle I yearned for. For example, I joined APASA PEER, CIRCLE, Asian American Tutorial Project, KCCC, AABA, Circle K International, and TAO, along with holding three jobs. By the mid point of my first semester, I had so many responsibilities, socials to attend, people to meet, and basically the “more” I was searching for. However, one evening, a depressing wave of realization swooped over me to acknowledge that I was still on base one. I sheepishly followed my peer group, joining organizations and becoming socially immersed in the people around me, without noticing my self, deteriorating and crippling in lack of self-love and respect. The anticipation of going to college heightened my need to be more ambitious and thus, pushed me to a state of discontent.
In my sophomore year, I cut out less important organizations and focused on organizations and jobs that I actually enjoy and are beneficial to my future aspirations. All my effort went into my academics, research for psychology, AATP (Asian American Tutorial Project), and CKI (Circle K International). Later that year, I was surrounded by the community that I was desperately in search for. Instead of actively and aimlessly searching for a community of friends, I strived to find what my passion lied in: education, community service, and psychology.
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