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Life Updates - 2020 (Part 1 of 2)

You may remember my post from about two years ago when I wrote a rather detailed essay on my personal life. The aim of this post is similar; provide an update on what I have been up to, life lessons, challenges, what my future is, and what I envisage it to be.
This post is not going to be an extended personal statement that one would generally see me writing for college but includes a more personal touch and less about specific and individual achievements of mine over the last two years. Certain exceptions do exist.

The article is going to be divided into two parts. This one will talk about school, college and life in general. It is more of a report if I can call it that. The second article will be about what I have learnt in the last two years. It is a bit philosophical, so I figured that not as many people might be interested in reading it. 

School

In 2018, I changed schools and ended up studying at Mallya Aditi International School, which, despite its ups and downs, has been a great decision. My academic journey here has made me more aware of who I am, about the functioning of the world and given me an insight into many things I have been blind to so far. As cliched as this sounds, it is true. I believe in providing credit to most of my Humanities teachers for this.

Compared to my earlier 'education life', if I can call it that, I have learnt to focus more on aspects related to my development than primarily concentrating on getting that 'higher %' in an exam. The focusing on what the academic industry loves to call a 'holistic education', has been in instrumental in making me exponentially grow and has resulted in achievements as I shall mention shortly. My advice would be not to relegate your non-academic pursuits to one of secondary importance but bring it at par with your academic pursuits as both are equally important.

Related reading: 

College/ University

My "intent to study either Public Policy or Political Science or in related areas such as International Relations in the future", as mentioned in my post two years ago is unabated. As early as September-October, the application season for universities had begun which sapped a lot of my time and energy. I was lucky in contrast to many of my classmates because I was not applying to the US, in which, each application to a university warrants multiple (as high as 13 sometimes!) essays and other details. Multiply that by the 7-10 (or in some cases, MORE!) universities you are applying to; one can only imagine what many of us are going through! This, as well as general laziness, has been the reason behind my irregular presence on my blog.

I applied to a total of 8 universities across four countries. 

In the UK, I received acceptances into King's College London, University of Warwick and the University of Bristol. I think it is imperative at this juncture also to mention the two rejections I received; one from University College London and another from the London School of Economics AND POLITICAL SCIENCE (the second part of the name is unknown to most people, but it is their OFFICIAL NAME). 
I also applied to the University of Hong Kong and received an acceptance but decided to decline it because of the uncertainty surrounding the student protests.  
In India, I applied to Ashoka University and received an unconditional/firm offer. 

I am proud to say that despite the above acceptances, I was lucky enough to have the choice to reject them all because I got into Sciences Po, Le Havre, France. It has been a university of a top reputation for the last few decades and was recently awarded the #2 ranking for my course (Political Science and International Studies) by QS World Rankings. It is a fantastic feeling to know that the college I will be attending ranks one below Harvard, and, above the likes of LSE&P, Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, Columbia and at par with Princeton.

The Le Havre Campus of Sciences Po (they have seven campuses spread across France) focuses on the Asia-Pacific, an area that I have an immense interest in, having born and lived in all my life. I hope the COVID-19 situation that has left us all in doldrums (and also postponed my last Board/Centralized Exam three hours before its slated start) will cool down by mid-August when I am supposed to make my way to France, a country that has been drastically affected COVID-19. My optimism regarding the situation has not yet faded. 

I have not zeroed in on a specific job that I hope to have because I am pretty flexible on that front. Although my interests are in the field that I have chosen to study, only time will tell about what I end up doing - consultancy, public policy analysis, academia etc.

Life in general

I remember writing about a diving Open Water Certification in my 2018 blog. My passion for the hobby did not stop there, and I went ahead and finished the level 2 - Advanced Open Water Certification in Havelock, Andaman and Nicobar. You can read about it here.
My extra-curricular activities were continued with the same, if not higher amounts of focus and dedication. It included both participating, organizing and chairing Model UNs, stepping into and being successful in Parliamentary Debate, among other things. 

Cycling has been a significant activity for me, and I still love it. In the past month, I have been cycling 15km-25km three-four times a week, and have been cycling regularly for years now. You can read about my cycles getting stolen here. 
On the sports front, my golf has improved to such an extent that my regular caddy thinks that I am fit to play in tournaments if I practise regularly. With an increase in upper body strength due to somewhat regular strength training and a better diet, I can now hit the ball much harder and further away which quite so often gets appreciations such as 'woooow' and 'brilliant!' as my fellow golfers track the ball disappearing into the horizon. However, playing golf professionally is not something I aspire to do since golf is a mere hobby for me.

While talking about sports, cricket is one that I still follow, despite RCB having not yet won a single season. However, I am incredibly proud of what the Indian cricket team has achieved so far, with certain, minor exceptions (the recent series in NZ being one).
Since we communicated last, I have once again begun following Formula 1. F1 is more than just a driver racing a car; the behind the scenes, politics, location change every week and the money and brand value that the sport entails have drawn to towards it to try and understand it better. If you want to get to know F1, I recommend you watch Drive to Survive (available on Netflix). Watch Season 1 to understand the 2018 season or skip to Season 2 to understand the 2019 season.

Among other news, I turned 18 in January this year. Officially 'adulting', or at least, I soon will. The first thing I did was get my Drivers License. The process took shy of two months in all, but I am glad I did it now itself. Contrary to public opinion, I managed to do it without hiring an agent or going through a driving school, despite certain obstacles that were thrown at me from time to time. I shall write about my experience soon. 

The COVID-19 situation has taken us all by surprise. The stock market has taken an absolute battering, and I fear to even open my portfolio and track my investments. That being said, it is a good time to invest, once more unobstructed horizons are seen in the near-distance. Stock are currently under-valued, and if we are to take any old-fashioned investor's (such as Warren Buffet/ Benjamin Graham) advice, it is the perfect time to buy into the market if you have liquid cash. 
As soon as my Mutual Fund account's tax-status is updated (I recently turned 18, so there were some tax-related updations to be done), I will be investing my money that has been lying idle for a while. 

That's all I have for now, please stay tuned for part two which will concentrate on what I have learnt in the past two years!

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