Neither Here Nor There
One Year Ago
Senior Year. A time of confusion, choice, and worry. Jiwon, a young and bright student with many interests, can’t decide what she wants to go into. She looks at her desk, pamphlets scrawled all over. You could hardly make out any full names of the universities, for she wanted to apply everywhere. She was a writer, harboring a love for creativity and journalism. She was a coder, spending her free time learning new languages for her twelfth-grade computer science course. She loved the sciences, finding it easy to comprehend as well as applying it to the world around her.
Jiwon walks over to her desk, mindlessly looking at the many pamphlets.
Kash: Jiwon! What has gotten into you, I’ve been shouting your name for the past five minutes.
Jiwon: Sorry Kash. I’ve been spacing off more and more recently.
Kash: Why? Do you have something on your mind?
Jiwon: I’ve just been worried lately. University applications are just around the corner, and with everything I want to do, I’m not sure what or where to apply to.
Kash moves past Jiwon and snatches the pamphlet she’s holding in her hands. He flips through the pages and then stares straight at Jiwon. Flustered, Jiwon looks away and walks towards the door.
Kash: Looking at this pamphlet, it seems as if this program is marketed as being very versatile. Those who graduate with the “Zuthiag” degree, a new degree offered at McHamster University, are said to have the proper training for entering a field in the sciences, in engineering and in computer science, or in humanities.
Jiwon’s eyes perked up. Could this be the program she was looking for? A program which gave her the ability to explore all her interests? A program where she could feel as if she truly belonged?
Jiwon: You know what! I think I’ll take your advice for once!
Excitedly, Jiwon and Kash pull up their laptops, ready to send in their university applications.
Three Months Ago
Jiwon arrives for her first day at McHamster University. Everything looks particularly appealing: the sun is blaring, the wind is lightly brushing her hair, and everyone seems to be happy. She is ready to see what the new school year has to offer, and she is ready to be in a place where she feels she could experience her many hobbies and interests. As she arrives at the building designated for the Zuthiag program, she sees a crowd of students huddled around. They seem to be people who looked far older than her. She approaches the crowd and begins to hear snippets of what the crowd is talking about.
Girl 1: I’m so excited to be here! I’ve been dreaming of this program, and I’m so glad I got in.
Girl 2: Same here! I can’t wait to see what the program has in store.
As more and more students spoke, Jiwon soon came to realize that she herself didn’t know what was in store. Looking at her courses for the year, her schedule was packed with science prerequisites. This made sense as most science prerequisites were first-year courses, but she was alarmed to see how little diversity there was. She knew she wanted to take some sort of writing course, but none were offered for the program during the first year. The same thing went for computer sciences, in which only one non-mandatory course was offered for a first-year Zuthiag student, which she of course took. She already began to feel that something was off.
Elaine: Hey, I noticed you wandering over here and wanted to come say hi. I’m Elaine!
Jiwon: Oh, hello! Sorry, I don’t usually look like this, I was just thinking. Are you another Zuthiag student?
Elaine: Yeah! I came all the way from Calgary as I heard that this program was perfect for a student who wants to pursue some sort of sciences or engineering route. Even though the first-year is so sciences heavy, I’m sure all the other things that make this program awesome will come up soon.
Jiwon: Yeah, I hope so too! Personally, I was looking into pursuing something that included both writing, the sciences, and engineering, so I’m excited to see what the program has in store.
Jiwon walks with Elaine towards the remaining students, talking aimlessly about their interests as they did so.
One Month Ago
An evidently stressed Jiwon walks out of her computer sciences course. With chemistry, biology, and physics on her plate, this course acts as a sort of stressor. She walks towards the Zuthiag building but trips and falls over her laces.
Shun: Hey, are you okay?
Jiwon: Yeah, sorry I’ve just been having a tough month. I’ve had a lot on my mind, and I just don’t know what to do. I’m Jiwon, by the way.
Shun: I’m Shun. Yeah, I could tell you were distressed. What’s on your mind?
Jiwon: It’s just… although I’ve loved my program, and everything I’m doing, I don’t think I’m truly able to explore everything I want to. I know transferring programs wouldn’t help either since I’d simply miss this. It’s as if I’m “neither here nor there”, if you understand what I’m saying.
Shun: I completely get what you’re going through. I felt the same during my first year as well. It seemed that everything being pushed towards me was so linear that I wasn’t able to expand my horizons.
Jiwon: Yeah, I feel the same way. Everyone around me seems to be so focused on what we’re doing right now so I’m not being introduced to opportunities outside of my program.
Shun: Personally, since we have so many resources and clubs here at McHamster University, it shouldn’t be too hard to experience all of your interests. You just have to go and do it, regardless of what everyone around is doing.
Jiwon: Mind if you help me find some?
Jiwon excitedly gets back up and starts talking to Shun about what interests her and what sorts of clubs and part-time jobs she might want to go into.
Jiwon walks with her group of friends as they all head out from physics together. This is their last class of the day, and they then all make their way to a new club that Jiwon pushed everyone to join.
Elaine: What club are we going to again?
Jiwon: You forgot already?! We’re going to McHamster Compassion’s info night! I heard we could become pen pals with children all the way in Africa.
Elaine: Wait, didn’t you tell us that this was related to something we were learning right now?
Jiwon: Hehehe I might have told a small white lie to bring you guys all here. Think about it, you’ll be trying something completely new and something that’ll be incredibly fun. To add to that, you’ll also do something that I like a lot.
Elaine: Well… I do owe you for the time you bought me bubble tea from Cocos. Come on! We better get going before it is too late.
Jiwon, Elaine and the rest of her friends happily skid off to the event, ready to try something new and something they would have never otherwise experienced. Although Jiwon’s first months may have been plagued with a confusing sense of belonging, she now pushes to experience all her interests, regardless of those around her.
Regardless of what program you’re currently in, try to never hold yourself back. If you feel as if you love more than one discipline, go out and experience them both in any form possible. As opposed to being neither here nor there, you can simply pursue outside activities, take electives, and make friends in disciplines outside of your own. Even though most students around you will attempt to take things related to their own discipline (as they are passionate about their own disciplines), don’t feel afraid to stray away slightly and try something new.
Script by Hadi Tehfe