The semester is over (finally).
Every time I write my reflections in one of these college review posts, I am shocked. Shocked by how fast time has gone. Shocked by how much I’ve grown. Shocked by how much I’ve experienced.
The word that defines this semester is bittersweet (me, the baker, referring to a type of chocolate. Is it a coincidence? 😉 ).
It was sweet because I entered a world of so much learning. I learned about the stories of African artists. How they use the aesthetic framework “Ayakata” to promote social change and uplift their community. I learned about how my participation in this era of globalization is influencing people across the oceans. My choices do matter — so do yours. I learned about the diverse and humorous Norwegian literary canon. Jeg elsker norsk litteratur.
Learning about all of these topics has not only enriched my mind but also my perspective. When I learn more about the world, I gain an understanding of the beauty that inundates every corner.
Knowledge is a door to gaining empathy. When you learn more about humanity, you become a better listener and person.
It was sweet because I finally started baking again. This semester, during the wake of the tragedy that flooded my life, I began to feel purposeless. I felt like my life was slipping into a volcano, exploding into the lava. However, I went to a halaqa (religious discussion) in which the speaker said: “for every joint you have, you must contribute to society.” After hearing that, I went home and began thinking about how I could contribute to my community. What can I offer, I asked myself? Baking? I decided to join a non-profit organization that provides custom cakes for chronically ill children. Baking made me feel like I was doing something to positively contribute to someone’s world. If I can’t change the whole world, I hope to at least change someone’s world, insha’Allah.
This was a unicorn cake I baked; it was so much fun to decorate. I dropped a lot of sprinkles on the ground and smeared buttercream all over my counters, but I was smiling the whole time. The best Friday night ever.
It was sweet because I grew more layers of acceptance for myself. As I’ve written before, I have had the hardest time being content with being me. I compare myself to others or degrade my worth. However, through the tragedy, I also learned that life is transient, moments are fleeting. I need to be my biggest supporter, my biggest advocate, my biggest friend. Although the journey to acceptance is ever-changing, I have become more kind to myself.
The bitterness still existed though. Sometimes it felt like my life had no room for the sweetness.
The semester was bitter because of the beginning tragedy. The tragedy set the tone to the year, but I tried to make sure it didn’t overwhelm the other flavors in my pot. I learned so much about myself in the process, but it was suffocating and unbelievable at times.
The semester was bitter because, for some reason, all of my deadlines merged. Exams, papers, quizzes, and projects were due during the same week — often during the same day (next semester will be worse — pray for me 😦 ). I felt like I was running around, trying to catch my breath, but that would take too long, and so I had to keep running. It worked out though, Alhumdullilah.
Here’s a peek into how I study. I move the coffee table and spread paper all over the floor. After that, I grab colored paper and write. Write notes. Write facts. Write definitions. Write practice problems. My apartment looks chaotic, but I promise something about sitting on the floor with colorful study guides really works. 😉
I think this crazy schedule has contributed to my new love: coffee. In order to make the deadlines feel less terrible, I went to coffee shops and spent all of my money on random beverages. Lavender, pumpkin, dark roast, light roast, turmeric, cinnamon, etc. I’ve tasted my fair share of coffee. I am not addicted to caffeine, but I love exploring new flavors.
Pictured: an espresso with coconut foam. Someone please fund this coffee sampling adventure! 😉
The semester was bitter because I had to make difficult decisions. I am the most indecisive person on earth. Making decisions that impact my future makes me question my path, but I have faith that the choices I have made will insha’Allah work out for the best.
Reading my thoughts and reflecting on my semester has made me realize that though I remember long moments of bitterness — the sweetness outweighs the bitter flavors in so many ways. Weirdly, I am thankful for the bitter burns, because they make the sweet songs so much sweeter. The bitterness provided me with perspective and encouraged me to live my life limitlessly.
So for one final reflection: life is both bitter and sweet, but without the bitter, the sweet will never be as incredible. I put bitter coffee in my chocolate cake to bring out the chocolate-y sweetness. In the same way, the bitterness in my life has made the sweetness so much stronger, so much more meaningful.
On to winter break. Finally. I turn 20-years-old this year. When I read my middle school journals, I write about how being 20 will be my time to be free, to do whatever I want. I laugh at my middle school self. Life will always have moments of freedom and excitement, I just have to find them. (Side note: one of my old journal entries is about how I would like to be the Pokémon Bidoof — and I can’t stop laughing. Take me back to the days when my biggest challenge training my Pokémon for battle.) 🙂
P.S. What is the first thing I will do with this newfound freedom? Make cheesecake danishes. Look out for that recipe next. 🙂
Follow my baking, college, and, now, coffee adventures on Instagram!
How much have I changed?
Read my past college review posts below: