By Emily Kim ‘25
Roughly two weeks ago, I finished my first year of college! This finals season was particularly tiring for me: on Monday I had a computer science exam (though I was glad to get it done early on in the week); on Tuesday I spent the entire day writing a final paper for my Jane Austen class; and Wednesday and Thursday were dedicated to finishing a project and studying for my geology exam. When the clock struck 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, I was finally done with my first year of college.
I experienced a mix of emotions as I left the geology classroom: on one hand, I was happy and relieved, ready to catch up on some much-needed sleep, but I also felt a tinge of sadness. Finals were over, and this meant that in just a matter of days, my beloved senior friends would be graduating.
I didn’t expect to make so many senior friends as a first-year, that’s for sure. Thanks to a Christian club on campus called first, love, in particular taught little freshman me some very valuable lessons—lessons that I will assuredly carry with me into my later years at Pomona.
They taught me the importance of rest and graciously reminded me of this whenever they would find me studying late into the night. I’m someone who often loses track of time when studying. When there’s an upcoming exam or a paper to get done, I can work for hours without realizing that it’s 3 in the morning and that I should probably head back to my dorm. There were many moments over this past year when I would be hunched over my laptop, furiously typing away in Lincoln Hall without any regard for the time, and suddenly I would hear a knock on the door. “Emily, go to bed!” my senior friends would say in between laughs. “We’re going to bed now; you should too!”
At the beginning of the fall, I was a little more stubborn, I have to say. They would catch me staying up too late, and I would insist on having another 30 minutes, another hour of work left in me. But by the time spring semester rolled around, I noticed the seniors’ words were slowly softening my workaholic tendencies. I made sure to check the clock periodically as I studied so that I wouldn’t lose track of time, and once it reached a certain hour, I would evaluate my progress. “Have I reached an acceptable stopping point for today? More importantly, am I, even in the slightest bit, tired?” If either answer was “yes,” I packed up my books and made my way back to my dorm for the night.
My friends also encouraged me to do something personally fun each day, even if that meant physically scheduling it in my calendar. Beyond classes, I was involved in a handful of clubs on campus, and, in my mind, club meetings were fun! Creating collages in InDesign for hearhere, a journal of Christian thought, was fun! Writing about matcha soft serve for TSL (The Student Life), our 5C-wide student newspaper, was fun! But my friends emphasized the regular need for something more, something purely for myself, something that wasn’t tied to any campus organization. They knew that I loved playing piano in Thatcher, so they suggested that I play a couple songs a day to take a break from studying. Sit in the Thatcher courtyard for 30 minutes and play around with some guitar chord progressions, they suggested. Just do something to break up the sometimes monotonous routine of class, study, club, repeat. Sometimes, my friends even physically walked with me to Thatcher, which was a true act of kindness given that they lived all the way on North Campus.
They also showed me that a little spontaneity never hurts! From late night Bert & Rocky’s ice cream runs on a Tuesday night to randomly deciding to watch Spirited Away together in one of their rooms (even when I had a paper due that upcoming Monday), my friends taught me that these spontaneous moments in college will oftentimes be the ones that I cherish the most.
I am grateful to my senior friends for teaching me these three important lessons—the need for rest, intentional fun, and spontaneity—and I know that their voices will be playing in my head as I navigate sophomore year. “Get some sleep! Play a song! Get that ice cream!” I know that, not only will I grow academically here, immersing myself in all that is a liberal arts education, but I will also be growing holistically, as someone who knows how to rest, how to take care of herself, how to let loose and have fun. And I hope that as I continue to grow throughout my time at Pomona, I can make my dear senior friends (now alumni!) proud.