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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Column: Farewell

This is it. After five years of college and four years spent in the lower dungeon of Freeborn, otherwise known as “The Basement” of The Aggie, my last column has arrived.  And as my words find their way onto this page, I can’t think of many other instances more surreal than this moment alone. So many years and moments of struggling to find the right words to say, this will be the last time.

This year has been a whirlwind. After changing my major from landscape architecture to art studio at the end of my fourth year last spring, I can’t remember a time where I’ve been busier with deadlines, dirtier from all the ink stains and Gamsol-soaked clothes, more tired, more sore … and more happy.

It’s pretty shocking to see the difference when you fully commit yourself to something you wholeheartedly love to do. Within eight months, I have created work that I am actually proud of producing and labeling as my own.

And as all these sentiments come to play, I can’t help but think: “College, you’ve been one hell of a roller coaster ride!”

I came into this system as a shy Asian girl full of insecurities, trying to hide among the crowd. Now, I can’t help but look into the future with big beaming eyes knowing that the world really is my oyster.

My parents, like many Asian parents, wanted me to become a doctor or lawyer. Unfortunately for Mom and Dad, I was never good at math or sticking with plans.

Growing up, I would watch my dad build things that would provoke my endless imagination. Whenever something needed to be done, my dad would do what was necessary to build or fix it. He would somehow, time after time, figure things out on his own. He never went to mechanic school but he taught himself how to fix cars; he never went to music school but he taught himself how to read music; and finally, he taught himself English when he first came to the U.S. to support my family. I’ve always aspired to be like him because he showed me that willingness to learn alone is enough to get you far in life.

With English being my second language while growing up, I never imagined that I would get the opportunity to be an editor at my college newspaper or a contributing writer for an international fashion magazine. I had never taken a formal painting class until my freshman year of college, and I never thought I would be commissioned to three public murals within a year’s length. Once again, the word “surreal” comes to my mind.

Anything is possible, really.

By the time I graduate, I’ll be over 20 grand deep in debt. With interest, I’ll probably be paying off this debt for the next decade of my life. Would I say it was all worth it? Hell yes.

There are some things you can’t learn in the textbooks but rather in the actual experience of being in the moment and letting things transpire in the course of time. Combined with this willingness and hard work, everything just “magically” comes together. In the context of these few years in Davis, I have gained experiences that are invaluable and utterly irreplaceable.

Well, things have gone full circle in this singular chapter in my life. I am going to Spain on April 1. By March 24, all of my belongings will be moved out of Davis. And by next fall, I hope to end up in New York to take on the art world. These years to come as a post-grad in the real world will be interesting and I welcome them with open arms.

This is the final goodbye. Thank you for keeping up with me on this journey since September. So long, sweet, sweet Davis and all of the wonderful friends I’ve made; all the great experiences I’ve been blessed with, both the good and the bad. I’ll never forget these wonderful years.

With all that said, I would like to introduce you all to ELIZABETH ORPINA, the new arts editor for The California Aggie. MUSE has been a close project in my heart and I am certain she will do an incredible job.

UYEN CAO would like to know what has been your most memorable experience of college thus far. Let her know by e-mailing her at arts@theaggie.org.


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