December 1, 2014

GUEST ROOM: One Milian Thanks to Give

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So due to schedule confusion, I didn’t realize that last last Thursday was my last column for the semester and maybe my last one ever. DUN DUN DUN.

Well no, hopefully not, assuming nothing terrible happens — like me getting sent to Disney jail — everything should be alright, and you readers will have to stand my ranting for yet another semester.

So, fingers-crossed, knock-on-wood, this won’t be my last column! But back to my train of thought, I never got to properly end my semester. Seeing how it’s the end of my semester abroad, the end of my first six months as a columnist and the end of my baguette-a-day diet, I feel like we need to go out with a bang, readers. There needs to be some sort of climatic scene, right before this winterlude. Get it? Winter-interlude?

Cue orchestral version of the Frozen soundtrack.

Think of this as one of those cute, end-of-the-season filler episodes, where the budget was too small to film new scenes so old ones are recycled with the cast giving cute voice-overs: “Remember when Kevin was really triggered by a problematic comment? Oh yeah, I loved that scene! No, my favorite was the one where he almost burned down his apartment!”

So what has happened so far? I’ve moved to France. I’ve hated France. I’ve loved France. I’ve traveled the world. I found myself discussing socio-economic issues on a rooftop in Morocco. I’ve learned that partying is a universal form of enjoyment, but that I need to step up my game. I’ve climbed the equivalent of McGraw Tower 10.01 times. I’ve learned the meaning of being homesick, countrysick and continentsick, and I’ve learned to appreciate being outside my comfort zone.

I’m looking forward to my triumphant return to the New World, but I’m also going to miss my new friends here. In my head, they’ve all transferred to Cornell and will be joining me at Loco on Tuesday and I’ll be taking them to Café Jennie for lunch and pointing out all my favorite libraries on campus. Sadly, bringing 400-plus international students would be a hassle for admissions, so I need to let go of this dream.

Even though I’m ecstatic to get back (and have the return of sweet, sweet bacon), I’m also having a hard time formulating my answer to “How was Paris?” Here’s the dilemma: If I tell people that I didn’t love it, I’m going to sound 1) ungrateful, 2) annoying, 3) privileged and 4) a party-pooper. If I say I loved it, then 1) I’m lying, 2) I’m not being true to myself, 3) I’m sugarcoating it and 4) I can’t think of another synonym for “lying.” No one wants to hear a Debbie Downer whine, but what about my integrity?

So here’s my answer! It was … interesting. Don’t get me wrong, in a nutshell, I loved my semester abroad. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, right? I loved being in Paris (the times I was actually in the city, and not where I live and go to school), I loved being able to travel, and my friends here truly made my experience. Necessity is the mother of invention, so consider myself re-invented! I feel like I’ve grown so much (not in height), so in summation it’s been great. Would I do it again? Definitely, but with a few changes, a bit more research and some fluency in French. Hindsight is 20/20, eh?

There were/are a few obstacles along the way that didn’t completely sour my time here, but definitely unsweetened it. Which happens everywhere, right? Cornell life isn’t perfect, Lorde knows. No one ever has a “perfect time” and that’s life. I just simply feel like I have to defend the opinions I have about this semester because no one ever has a less-than-perfect time abroad.

Or at least they’re not vocal about it. Is it an innate feeling that one can’t complain? It certainly doesn’t take away from my gratitude; I’m so thankful for everyone’s contributions, from the staff and professors, to the pickpockets ready to welcome me with a warm embrace at the airport. Is it fear of judgment? I mean, I care about what you all think, but I’m also hashing it out for you here to explain. If I cared about other’s opinions that much, I doubt I could air out my insecurities every other week in print.

I think it boils down to us being perfectionists, and faltering looks bad. Just as we’re “perfect” on the Hill, we have to be perfect off of it. So I’ve renounced my perfection (ha, a long time ago) and decided to be honest with my dear readers. And since I’ve already written a column about accepting our imperfection, I’ll refer you to my first column and go back to the gratitude. It is (relatively near) Thanksgiving, after all, and since I couldn’t celebrate it here in France, I’ll do it virtually.

I’m thankful for having the privilege to air out my opinions in the former No. 1 college newspaper (woooo, yeah!). I’m so lucky that I can express myself, and it is this luck that gives me the freedom to tell you all about my not-so-perfect semester. Especially in these dark times of civil rights, we must all be aware of our opportunities and take advantage of them, whether it’s through voicing our opinions or taking direct action.

I’m grateful for having the opportunity to be here, for my parents who gave me a future outside of Guatemala, outside of Miami and maybe outside of the U.S. I’m grateful to all the people who’ve shaped me along the way: teachers, friends, editors, fictional characters, my Magic-8 Ball, Segway Kid, Ronald McDonald and so many more. I’m thankful for YOU, dear readers.

So here’s to old friends and new, and crazy, less-than-perfect-but-still-oddly-perfect times that in the end are all part of our character development.

Kevin Milian is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He may be reached at [email protected]. Guest Room appears alternate Mondays this semester.