Julie Broch / Daily Nexus

To: S <s@umail.cal.edu>

From: Sury Dongre <suryaansh@umail.ucsb.edu>

Subject: Should I stay or should I go?

Dear S,

April 19, 2024 will go down in history as the day that the universe decided to make me go crazy. Transfer decisions were out. I had applied to transfer out of a sort of “what could have been” sentiment and really thought nothing of it. Alas. I should have treasured those blissful moments between November 30, 2023 and April 18, 2024. The biggest decision I made back then was coffee from Cajé or KOZY. But then, that fateful Friday, everything changed.

Ok, it really wasn’t that dramatic. But when I opened that admission portal and saw “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to UC Berkeley,” I did three things. I screamed “FUCK,” I called my mom (she didn’t pick up) and I changed my Hinge location to Berkeley, California. 

In those three seconds, everything around me just fell apart. The walls of my apartment didn’t feel real and the sunlight felt like stage lights. I was half expecting the door to open to a sitcom film crew. My brain, which usually contains a couple dust bunnies and a buzzing fly, was suddenly barraged with so many thoughts that it felt like TV static. It was the fear you experience when your music plays on your phone speakers in the middle of lecture. 

I don’t really remember what happened after. In the next week, I stumbled through life, going to class and occasionally having a crisis over what GEs would transfer, late adding classes to meet admission conditions and agonizing over whether I would go. I wanted to keep the door open. 

But for what? I found myself poring over the merits of going — did I only want to go to Berkeley because of the prestige? To make my parents happy? To relieve myself of the embarrassment that I — and only I — felt when I told people that I went to UCSB? I know people don’t think that I’m some sort of coke-snorting party girl, but I think that they think that. Who knows, maybe I only wanted to go because the unshowered nerd image was better than a beach bum. I accused my parents of being suckers for prestige a lot, but maybe I was too. 

On Tuesday, I shuffled into the Nexus office for print night. As I booted up the computer, I stared listlessly out the window. My brain was still a never-ending run of static and the motions of opening my email and InDesign were being run by some subconscious operating system. However, when a friend opened the door, we got to talking, and slowly it all unraveled. The stress of making a choice that could change my future, the fear that I’d never escape the Bay Area mentality, it all faded away. Ok, that’s a bit much. It helped to tune the broken radio of a brain I’d been working with. I got clarity for sure. But who knows. Going or staying, I know I’ll be fine. At least I’ll be saner than I was on April 19, 2024.

Torn but fine with it,


A version of this article appeared on p. 14 of the May 2nd, 2024 print edition of the Daily Nexus.