Dear Freshman Me - Kevin C.
Hi Kevin coming into college,
I know you’re anxious about a lot. And college is going to be hard because you’re going to have a lot of awkward hand shakes because apparently guys here do a lot of cool hand shakes, but back home in Taiwan people are less touchy and less cool. You’ll still be sloppy with the hand shakes even after a few years, but it’s okay, you’ll get better.
Start sharing your struggles with people you can trust — such as your anxieties about career, what to study, whether you’ve sold out by majoring in EECS, and even your insecurities about being socially awkward and fobby. You should especially share your struggles with those Christian upperclassmen and recent grads you’ll meet the day after move-in, because they’re surprisingly good at listening and at giving timely words of wisdom. You’re going to have a hard time making friends anyways because you’re so shy, but these Christians are super friendly and actually want to know you and do fun things with you. It’s with them that you’ll have some of your best memories in college, such as late night food and being silly together.
Remember to be grateful. You’ll find yourself stressing a lot about career and academics, especially when you start recruiting for internships. Just remember to not beat yourself up about your failures, but that you have so much to be grateful for, such as the fact you’re in Berkeley, have a family that loves and supports you, or even that you’re alive… but most of all that you still have a God who loves you and a purpose that goes beyond writing code for some multi-trillion-dollar company.
Start being more open-minded towards Christianity. You were so confident that you were well-informed and all religions are complete bogus even though you grew up in a bubble in Taiwan, but reconsider that the Christians you’ll meet actually have solid scientific, philosophical, and historical reasons for what they believe in. Although you spent your pre-college years as an atheist, you have nothing to lose from learning about Christianity and everything to gain… so take Course 101, a course on the intellectual foundations of Christianity, sooner and not only out of FOMO when your roommate does.
Please, please listen and take care,
Kevin after three years of college