A week after returning from my eight-month stay in Ecuador, I found myself on Stanford’s campus for the “Admitted Students Weekend.” There I was, wearing my alpaca sweater, my mismatched earrings, and what someone called “cultural necklace” amidst the crowd of over 1,000 newly admitted Stanford students.
We were all gathered to explore the campus and envision the next four years there. I was brimming with excitement: to talk to my future classmates, to map out my academic track as an Earth Systems major, to discuss poverty, foreign aid, environmentalism…I was so excited, until I found myself standing in the same conversation for the fifth time in an hour, listening to my peers list the five other prestigious colleges they got into.
That seemed to be the hot topic of the weekend: sharing the pros and cons of other universities and choosing which of the over two hundred events to attend. I was not annoyed at my peers–in fact, that was me exactly a year ago, standing on Stanford’s campus with a map and the overwhelming schedule in each hand, debating the pros and cons of Stanford as if that was the biggest decision I will ever make in my life.
One year later, with a Global Citizen Year under my belt, these life choices are no longer at the heart of what I care about.