Dear Past Self – Sonja English (Wesleyan University ’20)

Time, as Sonja has realised in retrospect, is truly a powerful thing; it is capable of teaching you, proving you wrong and making you take note of the things you have not realised before. In an honest letter to herself, Sonja recounts the beginning of her freshman year and reminds herself of life in the U.S.’ sweet, sweet surprises (which are often not in ways she imagined them to be.)


Dear Past Self,

At this point in time, you’re probably sitting in your single-room dorm thinking of who to share the next meal with. You don’t really know anyone very well, and frankly you don’t feel like you want to know them. They seem so different, unrelatable, even obnoxious. It seems like very few of them have something in common with you. Come mid-semester—a few months into college—you will find close friends. Not just friends of convenience, but people that you actually share a sense of humour and perspective with. Unbeknownst to you, you will befriend *white* people that are curious about where you come from and are adventurous to try the food that you cook. (You can cook!) By second semester, the cafeteria room will not be so daunting. Tables around you will have familiar faces, and there will be a group that you’ll actually want to sit with—as opposed to just sitting with them because you feel like you should. In time, you’ll also be comfortable with yourself. Comfortable enough to confidently sit by yourself—if you want to. Right now, I’m comfortable with where I am. My friends come from Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Chicago, Maryland, California, the Philippines, and more. If I want to watch Rupaul’s Drag Race in my room alone on Friday night I can, but just as well, I know that I can join my friends for beer & bad music that night, too.

My god, you will spend an immense amount of time in your room. So keep it neat and welcoming! Soft bed sheets are going to be the best investment you’ve made. Buying textbooks are going to be the worst (hint: download them, or find them in the library).

You’re going to discover that you’re not going to be a physicist, computer scientist, or economist. These academic challenges aren’t going to stop you from getting accepted by five job positions. You needed to know that these aren’t strong suits to discover your strengths. It will always come back to literature, writing, reading. Don’t forget your passions. These passions will propel you into a few jobs that will enable you to travel! The most wonderful surprise is knowing that you’ve saved up enough money to go to Cuba.

Breakfast with friends in Cuba

Things will fall into place: routine, friends, fitness, food. And the best part is, that you can boast of having read twelve Russian novels!

Take care,