Graduating from high school in 2020 was like reading a gripping book, but then losing the last ten pages. This year, though, it feels like I’m starting a new book. And it seems rather indescribable.
Aamyneh Mecklai, Staff Writer
In high school, everything I did was bound by this familiar and comforting sense of certainty.
I hung out with the same friends I had made since kindergarten. I went to the same piano classes each week. I lived in the same city for eighteen years.
But, in the final week of December last year, when my visa came through, I knew things would change. I was leaving the friends I had made since kindergarten, my weekly piano classes, and the only city that I had learned to call home. And despite that week’s recurrent sentimentality, time rushed by as I clung onto the uncertain comfort of my goodbyes. I didn’t know much about Toronto, I didn’t know too many people at Trinity College, and I certainly didn’t know what -18 degrees Celsius felt like.
The Class of 2024 was undoubtedly deprived of the experiences that typify the transition from high school to college. High school graduations have been postponed, cancelled, or truncated; farewell dinners with friends and family have been limited by curfews and national restrictions; and the exhilaration of spending the final summer in our hometowns has been eclipsed by the unpredictability of our departure.
Just like that, I had been thrust into the precarious arms of uncertainty. To my surprise, what followed was an indescribable winter semester.
Every conversation with anyone at Trinity would begin with “so, typically..” or “usually..” and progress toward “but, this year..” But, I found that “this particular year,” albeit its lack of the classic and irreplaceable traditions like high tables and the in-person frosh week, forced its first-years to find ways to entertain themselves with no external catalysts to speed up the process or make it much easier. And while my introverted self cowered at this thought, I found a way to socialize and make new friends: long walks across campus and the city in a safe and COVID-friendly way. And although the gowns and events would have been really nice, this way, I simultaneously learned more about campus and Toronto as well as my walking partner. Sure, there were times we landed up in Kensington instead of Nathan Phillips Square. But there was something special in our imperfect adventures across the city; there was something special about making friends in an environment and atmosphere where the expected outcome was not to make friends, but instead, to experience the city of Toronto and try or see something new.
This semester, on campus, I learned several new things. But there are three takeaways that stood out in particular.
First, it seems like uncertainty isn’t all so terrible. Yes, it means that I won’t know what’s coming my way. Yes, that means that I can’t prepare for what’s coming. And yes, it means that I’ll have to improvise and adapt and maybe, just maybe, look a little silly while making a few mistakes along the way. But, I learned that if you don’t look silly every now and then, you’re not trying anything new and that means you’re not learning or experiencing anything new. I didn’t move thousands of miles away to not learn or experience anything new.
Second, learning to think for myself is pretty rewarding. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing to do well or to be happy. Trying new things and seeing what works for you and what doesn’t is important. This semester, I found my own balance within and outside online school and didn’t compare it to the balance my friends had found.
Third, home isn’t characterised by regular piano classes or the same city skies or the walls of your bedroom. Home is characterised by the people you surround yourself with and learn to love. Yes, I left my kindergarten friends back in the city of Mumbai, but I made new friends here. They taught me about different cultures and lent me new perspectives. But most importantly, they stood by me through this semester as I navigated the sea of ‘different,’ ‘new,’ and ‘unpredictable.’
And so, that leads me to a fitting conclusion. Here is a special thank you to the friends that made this semester unforgettable: you helped me move in, showed me around campus the first day I arrived, didn’t let me eat alone on the gloomy days, took me for ice cream on the coldest day of the season, helped organize a wine tasting on the St. Hilda’s rooftop the first day the sun was out, celebrated Galentine’s with me, ‘studied’ with me in the quad, took me picnicking to Queen’s Park, got lost in deep conversations over much relished hot chocolate and glazed donuts, appreciated my (abundant) supply of Indian tea, devoured coconut buns with me in Chinatown, never let me do my laundry alone, got drenched in the rain with me after our first trip to Eaton Centre, watched my first Super Bowl with me, and so much more.
You know who you are — thank you for helping me find home and for making me, albeit reluctantly, believe in the magic of uncertainty.
Aamyneh is a first-year student at Trinity College and is interested in the intersection of blended finance, international law, and comparative education.