2021 had been an unexpected year. There were many uncertainties, starting with an all-time high in Covid19 cases in the UK. Lockdown was in place due to the daily 60k cases, and I thought that there would not be any easing of the restrictions any time soon. So I braced myself to be stuck at home for the entire of the 3rd year doing zoom classes.
As an introvert, I always appreciated some personal downtime. Lockdown gave me ample time to be alone. However, after a month of staying at home facing the four walls all the time, my mental health gave way. In those times, I needed any comfort and familiarity. 2021 is the year that I rekindled old friendships, and made new ones with the given circumstance.
I am grateful that I met these people that tide me through my tough times in lockdown. Every day, we gathered in the kitchen at Margravine Gardens to cook and feast together. Despite being in different years, we forged great friendships. I am forever grateful for their eternal support during those times.
A few weeks before the year commenced, I had submitted my application to various schools for my graduate program. I am not sure if I would stay in London for my last year or somewhere else that I applied. In mid-march, when I opened my email in the early AM, I received an email from Stanford. Congratulations from Stanford University Mechanical Engineering. I was in utter disbelief that I got into Stanford. At first, I was not sure about admitting to this school. I knew that the curriculum would be highly challenging, and there would be a lot of demand. Not only that, I would have to squeeze the duration of the program from 2 years to 1 year. But in the end, after consulting many friends about their experiences, I decided to click the I accept button.
One of the more iconic moments I had in the year would be getting my vaccination shots. We were extremely fortunate to get our vaccinations with the stipulated time of 21 days gap in between by mid-May. Finally, summer commenced, and the borders of the EU opened up for the vaccinated. At the height of the pandemic, I was travelling around the continent to see sights that I longed to see. From Iceland to Italy, I spent two months living like a nomad. I was so fortunate to see various sights I longed to see since the start of my stint in London.
"I decided to click the I accept button"
Alas, good things must come to an end; it was time for me to head to Palo Alto for graduate school. In the first half of the year, I found support groups that I yearned for during the height of the crisis. My friends sent me off at Heathrow Airport, and I left London with a heavy heart. I teared at times on the flight, reminiscing the good old memories that I had with my pals over the past 3 years, and more vividly, 2021. After a total of 16 hours of flying and being awake for more than 24 hours, I arrived at Stanford. (Here is the story of my first quarter at Stanford: https://www.eugenetang.net/review-of-my-first-quarter-in-stanford/)
Upon writing and reflecting on my journey to where I am now, I am incredibly grateful for all the events that happened to me. I take pride in the journey I had gone through. I take pride of going through another tough year trying to keep calm through the uncertainties. And I am ready to face more challenges in the year to come.