Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Journey as a Terp

Graduation brings back so many memories. I was actually thinking about it and I realized how much happened to me in the past four years at the University of Maryland. I moved to the USA, not aware of how incredible my journey as a Terp would actually be! I had no idea how different the next four years were going to be! I'm going to miss the place, no doubt! NOT THE STUDIES. Just the place! And the feeling of being a Terp!

My brother had moved and began his journey as a Terp before me, and when I visited him in the US, he drove me throughout campus, showing off all the buildings and what not! I didn't know then that I would be accepted, and not just study here as an average student, but actually excel and graduate with awards and medals! *proud moment here*

Then began my own orientation! A two day event of endless walking in the scorching sun across a campus so huge, I lost my way!! The dorm room I stayed in over night was BAD. That was one experience I really did not like; I am much much much more happy being with family at home than living in a dingy dorm with a room mate (who, in my case, didn't even want to look at me. AND did not shower for two days straight).

And then began endless days of studying, walking like crazy all across campus (which felt like a world tour on foot btw), stressing over quizzes and exams, attending good, bad, and the ugly classes .. with good, bad, and the ugly professors! I gradually got used to the system, the hectic lifestyle, and the fun parts of college life! And before I knew it, freshman year was already coming to an end!! It was the Sophomore year then when I actually explored VARIOUS things around campus!
Where there were horrifying exams and nasty study schedules that I was constantly making to make sure my GPA stayed awesome and I continuously remained in the Dean's List, there was some awesome stuff too ...

Like the first time I attended the First Look Fair where all the clubs and societies on campus were doing fun stuff ...

.. And realized that my University had a Quidditch team!! *Harry Potter senses awakening*

Also the time when a Chinese classmate told me this was how my name would be written in Chinese! (Hopefully she hasn't fooled me! Hahaha)

Anddddd when I was given my first clicker (inherited it from my brother) and told attendance would be taken! Ughhh the trouble when professors had issues getting the technology to work.

And UMD was never dull for too long, there was always some weird crazy thing happening (or maybe it was just me) that would add the AAAAH to my life as a Terp. Like the one time the fire alarms went off and we were all told to evacuate the building. An actual fire fighter showed up and the issue was resolved without any damage .. but guess what? CLASS CANCELLED, heeheehee!

And obviously, just because it was all exams and classes didn't mean I couldn't show off some style! My file cover was fully customized, with a cover I had made and designed myself and my outfits were always pretty and colorful!

The Sophomore year was actually much more happening than the Freshman year.
But a highlight was the Biology Class + Lab that I was forced into taking. It was the worst class I took throughout the four years of college. The most challenging, disgusting, annoying, and useless class EVER.
There were dissections of the ugliest and worse kind of horrible insects and what not and then they decided to take me into a VERY deep jungle to look at trees (I mean wth?!), and finally they took me to a disgusting lake and told me to go knee deep inside AT LEAST. I REFUSED THE LAKE, which by the way later found a snake happily roaming around in it!! (Thank the Lord for saving me!)

Also during Sophomore year I took my first online class, and the first Winter session! (I like to stay off during holidays, it gives me the needed relaxation to start fresh next semester)
It was my Women's Studies class and the Professor was super fun!

And awesomeness happened before Sophomore year ended! I found TESTUDO!!!
They were doing a Find the Testudo thing on Facebook where photo clues were posted of where Testudo was hiding (a stuffed version) and whoever found it could keep him!! I knew I had to find it no matter what. I spent an HOUR literally looking all over Van Munching Hall before I found him hiding in this decorative thing inside an office upstairs.
This was the clue that I was given:

And this is where I found him!

Accepted at The Robert H. Smith School of Business
as a Business Management Major

Sophomore year transitioned into Junior year with super stress! Applying at Smith was as hectic as applying for an actual job at some REALLY big firm! Nevertheless, it all paid off when I received the news that I had been accepted!
It was an extremely emotional moment (excitement, happiness, nervousness, stress) when I walked up to Van Munching Hall, as a Business school student, for the first time! It was now MY building, MY place!!

Yep! So Junior Year highlights now:

Meeting Testudo in person up close for the first time. I had to follow him quite a bit before I finally got to take a picture! He is so popular, the entire campus was in line to hug him.

Got a balloon made for my Abbie at the First Look Fair!
Such an awwww moment, right?

Took cupcakes by Sara's Baked Creations to two of my classes!!!

I took part in the first ever Smith School Photo Shoot! It was sooooo exciting! I had LOTS of fun!

Fall was BEAUTIFUL right outside my Van Munching Hall .. I could spend the entire day here, I swear!

and it was this semester that I became a TA for my Business Ethics Professor! 
He gave me gifts! Yayyy :D
But other than the gifts (heehee!) the experience was super awesome!

I found Mrs. Smith! Hahahaha!

Professor Pat's class and her fun ways of teaching were never to be forgotten!
She remains one of my MOST favorite professors in the four years at Smith!

And slowly and gradually .. Junior year came to an end, following Testudo around campus!

Before I knew it .. SENIOR YEAR HAD STARTED!
Two more semesters only and I would be graduating.

Senior Year highlights!!!

Famous people were teaching me *winks*! Wonderful reasons to love the Smith School!
It was cool to hear him talk about his bow tie style, haha!

Oh Lord, the disastrously awful Finance class that made me buy my first ever financial calculator. Hated that class so so sooo much!! I was so stressed it was going to ruin my GPA, but thank God I ended up getting SUPER awesome grades in everything and left with an A!! *proud moment*

Got more balloons made for Abbie at the First Look Fair. My last first look fair this was going to be!

Snow Days were a treat during this semester! The stress was really felt as a Senior. Snow days off meant fewer days on campus!

Professors this semester were really awesome! I kept getting chocolates and other treats throughout the semester; for Halloween, for the last day of class, for the final exam ...
I mean, it was WONDERFUL when once we got free dinner from Jimmy Lunch!!!


The exam session may have been hectic, but Smith's winter/Christmas decor was gorgeous!

And another hectic semester at Smith had come to an end!
I had finished with a flawless 4.0 GPA! Thank God!

With that flawless transcript I began my very very very last semester at The Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. Feelings were mixed; where there was extreme happiness of finally going towards graduation there was also a sense of loss for leaving the university and its good stuff behind. Also, where at one point I felt like all had ended and I needed to give just one big boost to graduate with my awesome GPA, I was also extremely stressed out because anything going wrong this semester would mean a fall in the GPA never to be recovered again, ever!!

This last and final semester, I explored Smith and Van Munching Hall to the maximum extent!
It was my first time taking an evening class (pathetic pathetic pathetic) so that my Mondays began at 10AM and ended at 10PM!!!!!!
Thing to note down: Smith totally needs to keep lights switched on at night .. this place looked super creepy!

Obviously when I was on campus in the same building all day, I automatically claimed some places to be 'my spots'. People who knew me knew where to come and find me! These two sofas (especially the purple one) were MINE!!!!!!!

Then came the moment. MY moment. It was time to hit STAMP to get my graduation regalia!!
Woohooooooooooo! What a fun day it was. The weather was awesome. The decor at STAMP was awesome. IT WAS AWESOMEEEE!

A fabulous experience! The showcase at the very start of the event, the awesome presentations, the decor, the venue, the fun I had with classmates. Wow .. just wow!! I am glad we were forced to go to this place as part of our class attendance. It was totally totally worth it!!
Of course I picked up souvenirs for my scrapbook!! 

UMD also gave me a taste of different cultures, literally. I took a Cross Cultural Challenges in Business class and during our presentations we were allowed maximum creativity! Obviously my group (presenting on Japan) brought in cupcakes, given that they had Sara from Sara's Baked Creations with them *winks*

I set an example for the groups that followed by bringing in food! They all got famous foods and drinks from different cultures! I got to taste some nice and unique stuff that I hadn't even heard of before ... 
Like non alcoholic Spanish Sangria!

and Japanese Green tea flavored Kit Kat (which I hated!!!!)

This semester was prettyyyyy crazy!!!
I was going crazy with the workload.
I was going crazy thinking about graduating.
I met some crazy people (in both a good as well as bad way) ...
And when I met crazy members in a group, it called for DESPERATE measures on our google doc.

Things were pretty crazy at STAMP too ...

I discovered there was a way to get hot water and therefore have my favorite blend of tea!!!
Being a Desi, chai is a pretty serious thing for me!
I had to take my tea bag from home or else migraines couldn't be kept away!

The crazy people, crazy work load, crazy projects, crazy craziness of it all left me pretty much crazy too!!
One fine day, sitting and discussing a group project with a friend and group member, I lost control and did this ....

But very soon .. the hard work paid off and I made it to the last day of classes. It was a strange feeling after the last class was over, I pretty much sat near a window, waiting for Abbie to pick me up, thinking of what had just happened.

And then came the final exams. The final final exams. Finally!! And I made my final final exams' study plan!

Final exams went awesome! Final projects finished awesomely as well! And the very last exam's feeling was FANTASTIC! I had done itttttttt!
Drove away from Van Munching, munching away a sandwich, and glancing back at it one more time!!

I had done it! Four years had ended after a long long journey!
Not only had I completed my Bachelors of Science in Business Management .. I had finished with a BANG!
My road to Graduation day was glamorous, fabulous, and the happiest I could have ever imagined!
I received the fabulous news that my professors had chosen me to be the 'Outstanding Student in Business Management'; I was awarded at an extremely awesome dinner and award ceremony ...

I also received an email informing me that my academic achievement had earned me a place as a member of The Golden Key International Honor Society ...

I was nominated to be the Commencement Speaker and received this in my email:

"Dear Commencement Speaker Nominee,

I am pleased to inform you that on the basis of your superb academic
record you have been identified as a possible candidate for student
speaker at the University Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2014, in the Comcast Center. Speaking for commencement is an extraordinary honor, awarded only to students with remarkable records. ......"

I was recognized among May 2014's Top Graduating Seniors:

You are receiving this email because you have been identified as one of our top May 2014 degree candidates, and we would like to invite you compete for the honor to deliver the Smith School undergraduate student address at our spring commencement ceremony on ....."

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi congratulated and welcomed me as an honor student!

Annddd my last semester was another 4.0 GPA!

Four years had passed, and I graduated with outstanding academic achievement and grace!
The University of Maryland and the Robert H. Smith School of Business will remain a very dear memory for all of the rest of my life!


-S. Ali

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