End of an Era

Officially, my undergraduate education is over. Classes are over. Project reports have been handed in. Final grades have been posted. I got all A’s this semester, and am graduating with a 3.79 and magna cum laude status. I must admit that I had wanted to graduate with a 3.8-, but I seem to be the only person who thinks less of myself for having failed to.

My research is not quite where I wanted it to be when I left. I won’t be able to conduct the last experiment, but I’m hoping to have it set up so that the graduate student I’ve worked with is able to run it once he comes back. The next few days, with the exception of Tuesday’s trip to Cedar Point, will be spent in the lab working on that. I feel as though I ought to have been in the lab this weekend, but in talking to others–my advisor included–it seems like they think it best if I take a few days for myself and relax. The rainy weather we’ve been having has only encouraged this lethargic feeling.

A bunch of us went to Borders a few days ago, where I picked up What Do You Care What Other People Think? and The Right Stuff. Both are scientifically-oriented people stories, which says something about the state of my mind, I’m sure. Much of this afternoon has been spent chuckling over WDYCWOPT; Richard Feynman and his stories never cease to amuse me. (As an aside, someone’s uploaded a copy of a documentary with him here, and I recommend it to anyone who has the time to watch.) Another thunderstorm’s come up: perfect weather for curling in bed with a book. Either that or sleeping, another thing which I’ve been doing a fair bit of lately.

Yesterday included a trip to Best Buy, where Mark got to spent the gift card he picked out. Among other things, he got Civilization IV, which I’ve been watching him play. (I, incidentally, got a collection of the first three Myst games, none of which I’ve played before.) I grew up in a household where gaming was not allowed beyond educational games, and I certainly played more than enough of Oregon Trail II and Carmen Sandiego (the third “Where in the world” version for those interested) to justify their prices. But I never got to make the jump from games like those–which were still directly educational–to games like Myst and the Civilization games, which, though educational, were not games purely dedicated to education. This is something I’ve always been a little disappointed about because I simply cannot count the number of times people have told me that I would love those games. And I fear that the time during which I would have enjoyed them–Myst, in particular–may be past. Civilization, on the other hand… well, the meglomaniac in me just refuses to let go of that one. We’ll see what happens when I get my hands on a copy. I’m sure there will be reports on how I’m conquering the world.

All in all, things feel a bit surreal at the moment. I still can’t fathom that in one week I’ll be receiving my diploma, packing my bags, and leaving for good. There’s no way to really express my sorrow yet because it’s just not real. I’m trying instead to focus on enjoying what remains in terms of time with friends, work on research problems, and in simply being here. In some ways, it’s kind of how I felt when my time in Tanzania was coming to an end. I knew that, very soon, I would be leaving a wonderful place (two wonderful places, actually: Tanzania and Germany) and wonderful people for a period of purgatory in a place that was unfamiliar and unexciting before making another move to something to which I actually look forward. The advantages this time are that there’s a good chance that I’ll be able to see my friends again; my place of purgatory is not entirely unfamiliar; I’m only there for a couple of months this time instead of a year; and I already know what I have to look forward to, namely graduate school at Cornell. In fact, as part of my efforts to look brightly forward, I will be wearing the blouse that Bill Nye dubbed “Cornell red” at Commencement next Sunday.

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