1999-2000: Year Two

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not
on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make
your paths straight.”

I had memorized Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) as a youth, but I had no
idea how it would apply to me. Actually, I didn’t even know what the verse
meant. It was just a “good” verse to remember because everyone else
knew it and I’m sure I got something in return for memorizing it: a sticker,
a bookmark, etc. Now, I can thank God for showing me what it means, through
life experience!

Second year at the University of Waterloo. Looking back, I can say that it
seemed more stable than first year, but it was just as much work in terms
of academics, if not more. Adjusting to university life, especially when you’re
away from home, took a year for me. I learned from the mistakes I made as
a frosh. I learned that cramming doesn’t work as well as it did in high school,
that sleep is essential if you want to put effort into studying in the afternoons
(instead of napping to make up for the time lost at night) and also to be
able to wake up for church and not fall asleep during sermons, that skipping
class really doesn’t do you any good–unless you know what you are doing,
and that your own cooking is three times as good as campus food–even if you
don’t know how to cook!

Fall 1999: a term of confusion, and decisions. The fall term began as a fresh,
new start. I settled into an apartment, which I shared with a fellow CCFer
and began the habit of studying in the DC, then DP–the quiet, non-CCF library.
I’m glad that I didn’t have resnet; I only had limited hours and a slow connection
speed. Yet, the computer and my inviting bed always tempted me, so that is
why I relocated. Thank God that my place is so much closer (and warmer because
most of the journey is indoors) than if I had to walk from residence. Despite
my efforts to retain and understand what the professors tried to ‘teach’ me,
I was still in a big mess, especially with organic chemistry. Oh boy. “Oh
boy”, is the very least of it–just ask other people who have taken it.
Either you naturally get it, or you don’t. Nothing in-between. It was then
that I truly questionned where I was going next.

My housemate constantly heard me sighing I’m sure, constantly wondering whether
I was in the right program. I started doubting myself, and tried to obtain
people’s opinions around me. Some confidentally told me that I was at UW for
one reason: to become an optometrist. If God opened that door for me in high
school, then I should keep aiming for my goal. My good friend also encouraged
me to stay in the program so that we could aim for our dreams together. I
really admire her. She doesn’t give up, even though she may not be excelling
in her courses either. She also has a plan B that is related to her field
of study, but she continues to work hard to reach for plan A.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . .”

Towards the end of the term, I was pulled into two directions.
I started thinking of a possible future in English (yipes, the faculty of
arts! =\). But with a pursuit in arts, my parents had previously told me that
I would have to go to SFU instead, which I didn’t want. I decided to wait
for my marks to see whether I was able to pull up my science GPA. Admist this,
I was praying. Harder than ever.

Winter 2000: This is where Proverbs 3:5-6 comes in. At Waterloo, the school
term begins before marks are released from the previous term. I was still
registered in the pre-optometry program and began another term with my science
courses, and urgh, organic chemistry. Two weeks in, I decided to back out
of that course and decided to take an arts course for fun (I barely passed
the first organic chemistry, and I wasn’t about to fail another course). I
think I was only taking 3 sciences like the previous term.

“. . .and lean not on your own understanding; . .
.”

After bouncing the idea of going into RPW off my parents, they didn’t persist
on insisting me to transfer to SFU. I was pleasantly surprised. One day, I
decided to see the arts advisor to ask for er, advice? Actually, I don’t even
remember how I ended up in his office. At that point, I think I (had already?)
found out that my previous term marks weren’t all that great in the sciences.
However, I did quite well in the 2 arts courses I took (‘A’ range). He told
me that if I was to switch into English, I would be able to do so without
any problems, and best of all, every credit to date will be able to be transferred
(normally students start off with a clean slate), so I would be going into
arts as a third-year student with a high average in arts. On top of that,
I had already met the requirements and pre-requisites in getting into my program
without having to take extra time to make-up for any missing credits. Throughout
the first and part of my second year, I had taken arts courses merely as electives,
some of which were “recommended” as part of the pre-optometry program;
others were merely taken out of interest sake. Additionally, in the faculty
of arts, one is must fulfill two groups of requirements on top of your program
requirements; upon the completion of the winter term, I would have already
fulfilled more than half!

I decided to change all my courses (except human physiology) to art courses.
Funny that I decided to see the advisor on that particular day, for it was
the last day to make changes–I wasn’t even aware of that! The science advisor
finalized it by signing the form. I decided to forget about studying for the
OAT (the optometry admission test) and just write it (because it was unrefundable).
Turns out, I achieved average in my overall sciences and a little less for
overall average. Oh well, I didn’t study for it. I viewed my winter term as
a term of transition. If I did very well in my one science course and only
fair in my arts courses, then I would reconsider continuing my pursuit in
the sciences.

” . . .in all your ways, acknowledge him . . .”

Throughout the term, I was constantly praying and seeking answers. Yet, even
then, what happened on the day when I saw the advisor was more than a coincidence.
I don’t believe in coincidences or luck for that matter. Additional to prayer,
I needed to do my part in doing my best and trying my hardest, which meant
I needed to keep up with my courses = studying. Before I knew it, midterms
came around yet, the results didn’t discourage me. Instead, I kept working
to improve with the hopes that I would pull up my GPA by the end of the term,
and that I would exit the my current program with dignity (ie. taken off of
conditional standing). The final part of the term came and went. Final examinations
were written, and I impatiently waited in anticipation for the results to
see how well (or poorly as usual) I did. I had to wait for 1 month! Such a
slow system; at UBC/SFU, students can find out their marks almost right away
through telereg (or something similar to that using a touch-tone phone).

Alas, my marks came back after everyone else got theirs! I was very happy
to see that the human physiology course was my best science course thus far,
but compared with the rest of my arts courses, it was still the worst of them
all. Maybe my strength has been in arts all along? The marks are encouraging
to say the least. I am off conditional standing and I could continue with
pre-optometry.

Another incident caused me to discredit concidences and luck, and to thank
God instead. When I tried to pre-register in for the pre-optometry program
(as the acceptance decision was not made yet) for the fall term, the same
advisor would not allow me to register for all arts courses and 1 science.
First, she looked at my pre-registration form and asked why I wanted to take
so many arts courses, and I said that I was planning to switch into arts.
She looked at me in disbelief and asked, “Are you still in good standing?”
Probably thinking that I wasn’t, I replied, “Yes.” She was shocked.
Her face told it all. I could picture her thinking, “What’s that crazy
girl doing? She’s in good standing, and yet she’s switching from such a prestigous
program into the faculty of arts? The faculty where ‘everyone’ looks down
upon?” But afterall that, she told me that even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t
be able to take all arts, and 1 science because 2 sciences are mandatory to
remain in the program. I was very surprised, because I suddenly realized that
she made a mistake when she signed my course changes form at the beginning
of the term for I only had 1 science. I was disappointed, but I filled out
a ‘dummy’ form with all sciences (she even made me take a lab with a course,
but my friend didn’t have to when she registered). I think the advisors there
are a l’il mixed-up.

“. . .and he will make your paths straight.”

About making this path straight. Well, it’s not like I know for certain where
God is leading me. However, at this point, I’ve been accepted into RPW at
UW, and the past circumstances, including my marks, seem to have paved a direction
for me. I do know that if I continue to trust Him, in hindsight, I will definitely
see the how the ‘path’ became ‘straight.’ I cannot tell you that this choice
to pursue a degree in English is the path that I will continue to follow.
However, I trust that with each closed door, there is an open one with a window
of opportunity inside.

(Spring 2000)

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