The sunlight pierces through the foliage of leaves on a tender spring day as you lay idly under the solace of an old oak tree. Amidst the wide range of sunglasses that rest on many a smiling cheek and bright floral spring dresses that accentuate many a feminine figure, you smile as the melody of laughter echoes all around you. A lush gentle breeze rustles the leaves above as you congratulate the higher powers on a job well done for the afternoon. Surrounded by friends from all corners of cultural diversity, you breathe in celebration of love and joy. The day is perfect. Or is it?
Amidst all the multiplicity of cultures and continents, you forget that you stand under the shade of protection of a learning institution. Their purpose is to both educate and nurture. The lessons you learn here aren’t just confined to classrooms and powerpoint slides. They thrust you into a world where you must swim to survive. However, the waters here aren’t as deep as they are in the deep blue seas of circling sharks. Swimming comes with the comfort of life jackets.
Despite all the lessons the cloudy days of yesterday provided, a university assumes the charming ability to usurp you from your glass house into a reality check. The reality check being there is a world around you to live with. The choice lies in determining whether to greet the sunshine and occasional rain of diversity with open arms or with the forlorn tears of many a phone call back home.
There are four seasons in a year, yet some of us dwell on the dreary cold winter nights all year long. For the many that miss their parents or partner or sun and sea or friends or Californian Starbucks or dog or cat or monkey, there is hope. The rays of sparkling hope are embodied by one action, and only one action. Opening the door.
Open the door to meet people, talk to people and embrace humanity. Sitting brooding in a corner will never rid us of the pain of loneliness. Spending eternity behind the shield of books and Facebook or MSN won’t encourage the heart to grow less fond of home. Get out! Open that room door, walk out and just say hi to someone. Don’t judge them for where they’re from, what they do or how they look. Just embrace the fact that you are here for a learning curve. Allow that curve to give you a lifetime's experience. Give yourself a chance, and you can’t do that by brooding. Live a little, dance in the rain, drink till the sun rises, make some friends to last a lifetime and just plain ol give yourself a break.
One day we’ll all look back at our days here and both wear a smile and shed a tear. Digital cameras have made it immensely easy to capture the moments in pixels, but memories will ensure that we take true bonds back home. Friendships that may or may not last the test of time, but nonetheless they will be chapters that shape our future selves. How many chances will we get to make friends from all corners of the globe? How many chances will we get to have an excuse to visit all corners of this wonderful planet? Not many I reckon.
Outside of here, we’ll have to grow up and face reality. The commitments of the real world will burden our shoulders till mortality calls time on us. We’ll have to grow up. Acting like a 5-year-old in snow covered fields will be acts of a past life. We’ll smile when our 5-year-olds come back sneezing from all the snow fighting and you spend the next 10 nights regretting as they cough your sleep away. It’s a whole world away for some of us and a not-so-distant reality for others. Society will expect you to grow up and act your age. Even the sunshine will seek that you spend less time mulling around smiling and be more productive with your existence.
One day we’ll all go our separate ways. It’ll be a tearful end to a glorious chapter. These are the chapters that will linger forever in our hearts as we set about shaping our respective futures. The empty beer glasses will ring hollow. Till that day, we have got today. So embrace it before it’s too late. Regret is tomorrow’s antithesis of living today...