May 4, 2023

HUKERIKAR | Carry On My Wayward Transfer Student

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Sometimes, I feel like the four years of my college experience has actually included three freshman years: my actual freshman year at the University of Central Florida, my “Zoom University” year at Cornell, my first year on Cornell’s campus and now my senior year. This odd sequence made me feel as if I were catapulted between the latter two, leaving me with a sense that the “best four years of my life” have been left incomplete.  

So while it took me no more than a month or so to adjust to college during my actual freshman year, my transition to Cornell felt longer, more difficult and more isolated. I was a wayward transfer student much longer than I had been a confused freshman. And it took me until this year to realize where so much of my distress had come from: I felt like I wasn’t in control over my own narrative. To be fair, living through a global pandemic can do that to you. But how long was I going to blame my circumstances for my own lack of agency over my life? I had become exactly like the passive protagonists I hate to read about, the ones who let things just happen to them rather than being an active participant in their own stories.

What I decided, finally, was to do things intentionally. I reminded myself that one of the main reasons I came here was to study Comparative Literature. So I started taking more thorough notes in my theory class, actively sought out my own interests to find a literary niche and made time in my schedule for both Spanish and French. When I chose to take on Government as a second major, I made sure to take advantage of the wide variety of classes, learning more about topics that I wouldn’t have given a second thought to before. An interest in democratic backsliding and political polarization that I pick up from a required introductory course grows and later morphs into the topic of my senior thesis. And although I’ll never be able to say that I enjoy painstakingly typing out ten-page essays or memorizing the nuances of different political theories, I realized that I did enjoy learning, and I was fortunate enough to study two majors that I remain truly passionate about.

I had already joined The Cornell Daily Sun soon after I transferred, but my initial articles were mediocre at best. In my new spirit of intentionality, I allowed myself to be unashamedly excited about my interests through my articles. Giving myself a break to write my rant-y King Kong commentary was some of the most fun I’ve ever had with writing, and my journalist experience with The Cornell Sun wouldn’t have felt complete without the hateful emails I received from some readers afterward. 

Later, when I became one of the Assistant Arts Editors in my junior spring, being part of The Cornell Daily Sun felt like more of a community, and the late nights at The Cornell Daily Sun office soon became an essential part of my time at Cornell. 

Now, I find myself here. Weeks away from graduating. I have accomplishments from my time as a student that I can be proud of, and I have positive memories of Cornell that I’ll look back on fondly. And though I still have many uncertainties about my future, I have considerably more direction than the wayward transfer student who came to Cornell in fall 2020 had. So where will I go from here? Well, I can’t tell you for certain. But what I can do is describe the present: I think about how many articles I’ve written or edited for The Cornell Daily Sun, the late nights I spend working on The Cornell Daily Sun newsletter (which you should subscribe to!), and my numerous struggles with Adobe InDesign at The Cornell Daily Sun Office. I type the final words of my senior column. I set a reminder on my phone, likely for the last time, to pick up a print copy of The Cornell Daily Sun tomorrow morning.

Aditi Hukerikar is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She served as an Assistant Arts Editor on the 140th Editorial Board. She can be reached at [email protected]