Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Indonesian Girl's Battle with Senioritis

At the end of March, my tenth post for Indonesia Mengglobal was published. Unlike most of the articles on IM, this one serves students who are already in college, be it abroad or within the Indonesian region. 'Senioritis', I believe, is a general experience that can be simultaneously depressing and comedic. As promised, I have translated the piece into English for all to see. Since it is a rather fresh notion amongst Indonesian adults, the original post contained more explanations that the one below, which can be seen as more of an opinion piece.

Again, senioritis is heterogenous in nature and I would appreciate to hear YOUR experiences with it.

Senioritis: An epidemic amongst college seniors

An empty desk stands solitarily in my apartment. Reminders of time subtly present itself on my closed laptop and calendar. Stacks of reading materials sit calmly atop a multi-purpose picnic table, where I write, eat and watch movies. Almost three years have passed since I graduated from Santa Laurensia, my second home for fourteen years of my life. Almost three years have passed since I left Jakarta to pursue a higher education.
OMG, Say What?
Nearing the end of my freshman year at Sarah Lawrence College, the faces of my graduating friends grew pale as they nervously twitched at the thought of leaving college. That year, fall had swiftly turned to spring, stealing time out of their hands. “Oh my gosh, we’re graduating in less than a hundred days!” one of them screamed at her smart phone. “Calm down,” a statistics professor promptly began class that morning, afraid that any positive reinforcement would delay his agenda.

As a freshman, I could not wrap my head around the commotion that felt so palpable and real to many of my friends. If graduation was a happy event, why are all these seniors so panicky?”

Still puzzled and amazed, I asked my don (faculty advisor) for some clarification. He laughed rather hyperbolically and said, “First of all, your very first question to me ever was – how do I graduate as fast as possible, true?” I nod. “Even before you even completely stepped into the door, you were prepared to get out,” he continued, “and second, it’s called ‘Senioritis’”.

A colloquial word that conveys the anxiety triggered by thoughts of the inevitable future, ‘senioritis’ is most apparent amongst students who are about to graduate. Even though high school seniors also display its symptoms, senioritis is more prevalent amongst those in college. I have observed that the issue is more frequent in the U.S.

Perhaps, one reason behind senioritis is the sudden loss or decrease of financial support experienced by many college graduates in America. Additionally, the notion of diving into the “real world” can be debilitating, especially in the aftermath of a financial crisis. After 2008, the U.S., U.K. and even Australia saw an increase in unemployment rate. Companies laid off numerous workers and implemented much more stringent application procedures. As a result, a new culture of twentysomethings has emerged. In contrast to prior years, more and more young adults are moving back to their parents’ house. Moreover, many volunteer or intern, due to a lack of job opportunities.

Falling Onto The Pavements of The Real World

Nevertheless, many international students experience seniorities. In the U.S., most foreign students enroll in the Optional Practical Training program, which allows them to work for a year without a working visa. Individuals who do not attain a visa sponsorship from their employers often continue on to graduate school or other forms of education, or leave the country.

Personally, I have journeyed through my last year of college with little feelings of senioritis. Of course, some symptoms, such as nostalgia, has crept up on me, but the only pang of realization came when I received a similar email to one my friends had read aloud during my first year. Counting down days made graduation even more real. Even so, with a good plan ahead, the email also reminded me how fortunate I am. Although going to grad school may not be the best choice, it is the one I am making now, the one that will get me through the last weeks of senior year without nervously breaking down.

Senioritis to me, at this moment in time, feels much more abstract. Ever so often, it haunts me and follow me around school. I see missed opportunities and wonder what would become of me if I were to follow the conventional four-year path, instead of accelerating. Nonetheless, I take it as a reminder to enjoy my last days at Sarah Lawrence, New York, and the larger U.S. Maybe it might even be a good idea to place an analog clock with a ticking hand, to provide a constant reminder of how fast time flies. 

*The photos were supplied by the author

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