Unknown artist

Unknown artist

Wow. I'm done. I finally get to leave Ames, Iowa.

I remember back in INTI college in Malaysia when my friends and I were all applying for schools, I just went along with my friends and only applied for this school.

I figured that would save money on the applications, and ISU was the most optimal choice for credit transfers, tuition and living cost, and friends.

Looking back, I definitely would've applied to other schools. After California, I saw that the grass was greener. I could've had a better college life, made more friends, and got better internships.

But, I have to be grateful for the opportunity to study in the US. It's not an opportunity every Malaysian gets.

I'm blessed to have a father who works hard to fund my educational and career goals.

I'm going grad school anyways, I have a second shot at a "college experience", whatever that is.

My time here at Ames was pretty depressing. But there were good moments.

The beginning of it was nice, everything was new.

New apartment, new housemates, new classrooms, new weather, new life.

It was my first step into adulting.

I started buying my own groceries, cooking my own meals, researched the best credit cards, managed my finances, paid taxes. Applied for jobs, interviewed, and learned how to communicate with people.

A lot of "adulting" boxes that I wouldn't check if I stayed back home.

What would be a fun college life experience in a small, quiet town is quickly filled with pain and suffering, inconveniences and boredom.

While a normal student would go through issues of hard classes and bad grades, breakups, financial difficulties, sport injuries, I had to learn how to survive with GERD.

It creeps up on my life in all aspects.

In my sleep, my daily meals, my activities, every second of my life.

Difficulty breathing. Heartburn. Sore throat. Stabbing pain on my stomach. A constant feeling of discomfort with my body. I've never felt myself since January 2021.

It was suffocating. I contemplated stopping college in the second semester when I had trouble eating and swallowing.

Having chronic health issues and being an international student are two things that contradict and are in conflict with each other. It doesn't make sense to be >8000 miles away and not be healthy. It made me realize and relate to the sad truth of how so many people cannot afford healthcare here in the US, such a basic right of human beings, and how it's much harder for me to achieve my dreams in the US.

Going to California was a breath of fresh air. I got to experience the bay area. The Silicon Valley. It was what I dreamt about when I started college. It was also my first job ever in my life. I got to work at the factory where Tesla cars are made and see Elon Musk in person. I made a lot of friends, saw a lot of places, ate good (limited) food. I grew a lot that summer.

Going back to Ames was just sad. It was like coming off from a high and back down to boring, flavorless Ames.

The one good thing was I moved to a new apartment where I could walk to classes <15 min. I started walking a lot more. I like walking.

Everything was mostly a blur, besides classes and going to the library everyday to do work at the wide screen monitors, my environment was unchanging.

After a really fun tokyo trip in winter, and the obligatory return to Malaysia, I came back to the cold and unforgiving weather, still trying to get an internship.

Eventually Tesla was the only company who wanted me for the summer, and I went back unwillingly, yet with gratitude that I could go back California.

It was another unforgettable summer. If the first summer was about being able to experience the bay, the second summer was about interacting with the people itself, and getting first-hand experience of the AI energy in SF. I had my parents with me for 3 weeks and got to drive around and explored with them. I went to church. I made more friends, saw old ones, had my first party experience, first meetups, first in-person hackathon. I remembered why I loved the bay and fell back in love with her again. If there's a place that can instill in you with the belief that anything is possible, it's SF.

Going back for my one final semester for one class was dreadful. I was actively trying to stay / go back after my 14-week internship was done.

But I'm glad with how my time here at Ames ended, I'm leaving on a good note. I'm really grateful for the chinese church and the people there who were filled with the love and kindness of God. It reminded me of the good in people, and that I have the responsibility to show it to others as well.

Closing this chapter of my life, I learned a lot, but I still have a lot to learn.

I'm still incredibly sick of living in this body. So, I'm glad I get to go home and fix my body. I'm going to do surgery and get my life back.

And I'll be back stronger than ever.