[dropcap]$[/dropcap]32,943.62. Sounds like a lot of money, right?
I haven’t even finished my second year at SFU, and that’s how much I’ve been charged in tuition fees as an international student. That’s how much it costs for a whopping total of 48 credits. And this amount is just for my tuition fees. I haven’t even added in the cost of the U-Pass, health insurance, and other student fees.
Each time I think about how much the international tuition fees go up at SFU, I try my best to suppress my anger, but, of course, it leaks out from time to time. And each time it does, I tell myself that I should’ve gone to McGill. My IB credits would’ve still transferred over and my tuition would’ve been lower. Then I instantly feel guilty, because if I had gone to McGill, I never would’ve met the love of my life, I never would’ve met any of the amazing people I have the good fortune to call friends, and I never would’ve become the Photo Editor of this very paper you hold in your hands.
Still, my mind wanders from time to time: what if I had known about SFU’s consecutive three-year 10 percent tuition increases? Would I have still have come to SFU? What kind of person would I be if I had gone to McGill? Would I have continued to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a doctor? Would I have stayed together with my high school sweetheart? Would I still even be a photographer? These questions have plagued me endlessly for the last month, and I wish I could give myself a clear cut answer, but I can’t. I can’t say for sure what could’ve been.
I contemplated this issue for the entire month of January, holding my heavy heart with regret, shame, guilt, and anger. I was so unsure of myself for the longest time. I lost sight of who I was because I was terrified of who I could’ve been with a simple step in the opposite direction — to the east coast rather than west — when choosing my university.
The revelation came slowly and quietly. It came in the form of ordinary, but profound moments. It came in the form of late night production days with the whole staff still in the office, joking and laughing. It came in the form of enthusiastic debates with my favourite professor, in the form of my partner’s arm around my shoulder as we walked around campus, in the feeling of a camera in one hand and a recorder in the other. The revelation came slowly, but eventually I admitted that while lower tuition would be nice, I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything.
Will I ever stop wondering what could’ve been? No. I don’t think so. It’s still jarring to think how my life could’ve turned out so differently with only one simple choice. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. But at least I’ve stopped regretting it. The choice was mine to make, and there wasn’t necessarily a better or worse choice, just a different one. I’m happy with the life I’ve made for myself and I’ve realized that instead of thinking about what could have been, I should be appreciating what I already have.