Becoming a Sophomore at Tufts after Gap Year

View from the Tisch Library :)

Going back to Tufts feels weird and exciting.

It's weird to feel like a freshman again.

It's weird to acknowledge that my friends are now upperclassmen. I have to get used to that.

It's weird to return to an academically rigorous setting after spending a year trying to figure out my life.

But, it's exciting to go back to Boston, a city I love.

It's exciting to meet friends I've made during my freshmen year and experience college campus life again.

It's exciting to finally get a tiny taste of independence and control over my life.

As you can tell, I have mixed feelings on what's ahead. Though I'm sure the excitement exceeds the anxiety.

This post will answer three questions:

  1. What are my goals?
  2. What are daily routines I want to continue/implement?
  3. What are reminders for myself?

Before we begin, it is worth noting that this is a personal process. This is an overview of my goals for next semester, not advice for how you should plan your college year. (Though you are more than welcome to use these questions as a format for your planning.)

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Photo by Jay Mantri on Unsplash

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1. What are my goals?

I have quite a few.

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Figure out if I should get a CS major

After planning out my four-year class schedule with a design major and a few minors, I realized I can't take any other classes other than the required ones.

That's a real bummer. I want to take interesting and novel classes at Tufts.

That's why I thought about getting a CS degree. It has the lowest major requirements.

But it's one of the hardest majors at Tufts. And the workload? Let's not talk about it.

I took Intro to Computer Science as a freshman. I struggled hard.

Here's the thing: I don't know if I want to do this. I don't even know if I like CS.

For now, I'll see how the first two weeks go before the add/drop period. Hopefully by the end of fall semester, I can get a better sense of my potential major.

Maybe it'll be completely different. I have no idea.

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Post music demo and cover consistently

I plan to alternate my demo and cover schedule. I'll make one demo in week 1, then one cover in week 2, and so on.

If I do take two CS courses next semester, I'll imagine the workload to be quite substantial. That's why I think one demo/cover each week is reasonable.

The goal is to create eight demos and eight covers by the end of fall semester.

Consistency is key.

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One blog post per week

This one is simple.

I love to write.

I want to become a better writer, learn distribution, and grow this blog.

In short, I've paid for this blog to exist. So let's make something out of it.

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Try something new

‍During freshmen year, I joined the break dancing team TURBO.

It turned out to be one of the best college experiences I've had so far.

I went from knowing nothing about breaking to performing on stage with the crew.

I was scared at first. But I took the leap of faith, and the result was phenomenal. Though I don't break dance anymore, I'm truly grateful for the experience and all the amazing crew on the team.

Now, I want to try something new.

I love to sing and make music, but I want to improve.

That's why I think the most effective way to improve will be to join an acapella.

So, I will audition for one next semester.

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Get familiar with Boston

‍This will be harder with Covid. But if I get the chance, I want to become an expert on Boston.

I am incredibly blessed to study in the states. That's why I want to take advantage of the location I'm at and the resources I have.

I want to understand everything about Boston.

And hopefully I'll be a great tour guide when my friends come over.

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Body fat to 15%

‍This will be tough.

This means no snacks after dinner. No more famous "late night snacks" at Tufts.

This means no sweets, fried, or any junk food/drinks.

This means exercising regularly. HIITs, weight training, running: You name it.

Sounds awful right?

But, this also means a healthier body.

This also means a conscious, satisfied, and strong mind that has overcome countless external lures and internal cravings.

This means accomplishing something I've wanted to do for years.

Being a college student doesn't mean staying overnight , gaining weight, or sacrificing health.

It just doesn't. It's a stereotype. Get over with it.

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Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

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2. What are daily routines I will continue/implement?

Here is what I'll do everyday:

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Read for at least 30 minutes

Reading is a life hack. You're consuming years of knowledge from an expert in a matter of hours. That's incredible.

To remember what I read, I will spend 10 minutes after reading to organize my thoughts. I will open my Notion book doc, type out any insights from the book, and continue the next day.

After I finish reading the book, I'll spend 30 minutes to organize all of my notes.

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Practice guitar & singing and post online

This is crucial if I want to improve on both.

Posting on my Instagram account is a form of accountability. It motivates me to practice.

One important note: Don't half a** my practices. Completely focus during practice times.

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Exercise

‍This is an essential factor to my 15% body fat goal. I will soon plan out a reasonable workout schedule for my fall semester. It should consists of HIITs, weight training, and running.

It'll be exhausting. But please don't give up.

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Photo by Paul Earle on Unsplash

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3. What are reminders for myself?

For the future me who's too busy with school, depressed, or lost.

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Stay connected with family and friends

I'm lucky to have a loving family who will support my decisions. It's good to check up on them and update them on my life. I plan to call my family at least once a week.

And in terms of my non-Tufts friends, I will make an effort to maintain the connections. I've always hoped for people to reach out to me, but that's rare. If I want to keep in touch with my friends, I will initiate.

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Do not neglect my heritage

‍As a freshman, I tried so hard to blend in to the point when I ignored everything that's going on back in Taiwan.

Arguably my biggest mistake.

That's why I'm so grateful for this gap year. Now I truly appreciate Taiwanese culture, especially music.

I'll never forget the impact Taiwanese music had on my gap year.

It was life-changing.

I'll continue to support SKRPresent, Vicky Chen, and my favorite artists. I'll continue to follow the creators in Taiwan. I'll share insights about Taiwan to my college friends.

Learning a culture should never be one-sided. I have to contribute and share too.

In a new environment, never forget where you're from.

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Don't let school dictate what I'm learning

‍This is from an interview between Blender Guru and Colin Lexy, ex-Pixar artist.

When I heard this, I was like

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This is pure gold.

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Although Colin was advising this to art students, this applies to any field.

The reality is harsh: The classes you take and the work you produce in college are all bare minimum. Everybody's work looks relatively similar.

What people care about is what you've done on your own time.

As Colin said:

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If you want to do this for a living, you should do so much work outside of class that you almost consider yourself self taught.

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To hear this excerpt, start from 1:05:25 from this interview. Trust me, it's golden.

Remember, don't stress out on the "perfect" classes or grades. They're not important. What matters are the people I meet and what I do outside of college.

Get what I want out of the curriculum. Use the resources available. Meet people.

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Explore and try as many things as possible

‍This is the beauty of college. I am allowed to explore different things with close to zero risks. Of course, I won't touch the "bad things." But when given a chance, I will try as many things as possible.

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When I feel like what I'm doing is meaningless, think back to my initial why

This is something I've learned during my gap year.

When I decide to start something, I'm always motivated.

But then life hits. And external factors begin to affect me negatively.

I get distracted by other factors (attention, numbers, and more). I feel like what I do is meaningless. I feel like nobody cares.

When that happens, I need to recall my initial why.

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Why did I start doing this in the first place?

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Recalling my initial why helps me to care less about the external factors. I refocus on what's truly important.

For example, after I post a daily practice video on Instagram, I sometime wonder,

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Why does nobody like my videos? Five likes? Why am I even doing this?

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But if I recall my initial why, I stop dwelling on the numbers and think,

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Hey! Who cares if only five people likes my post?! My goal was to practice guitar and post it online. That's it! I've done it! (pat on the back)

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As Derek Sivers in his book Anything You Want said,

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Never forget why you're really doing what you're doing.

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This mindset will be crucial to achieving my goals and completing my daily routines back in college.

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And that's a wrap!

Thanks for reading :) And best of luck to all the college students out there! You got this!

Best,

Guo

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