Thursday, May 15, 2014

Academics, achievements, memories, and beyond: the post-graduation reflection post you've all been waiting for may have all noticed that I've been a little quiet with my posts lately.  Part of that is explained by the most brutal weeks of finals I have ever encountered.  All my final papers, exams, and assignments absolutely killed me this semester.  I don't think I've ever been so sleep deprived, exhausted, or frustrated with school.

Then as soon as finals were over and before I really had a chance to recover, it was graduation...a weekend that flew by with ceremonies, receptions, family, and dinners.  In the midst of these activities, I couldn't help but be, like many others, a little sentimental about my time at college.

Three years ago, I stepped onto campus bright-eyed and excited for my future, convinced it would last forever.  I embraced college life - the dorms, the friends, the classes, the campus, DC, everything.  I became completely absorbed into student life in DC - I had friends, passion for what I was studying.  I loved my classes, my professors, and the intellectual challenges that I encountered.  Freshman year flew by in a flurry of classes, new friends, and new experiences, and before I knew it, I was jetting off into Central and South America on my first study abroad trip. In that summer, many things happened, but among them was a sense of finding out who I was and becoming comfortable with it.  That feeling has only grown stronger over the past two years as I've slowly started to discover what I like, what I don't like, and what I want for myself.  Do I know who I am now?  Will I ever know who I am?  Probably not.  But I take comfort in knowing that I will always be figuring it out in search of finding out what makes me me and becoming more comfortable with the uncertainty of never knowing exactly who I am.

I walked into college knowing I would graduate in three years, but I did not anticipate how quickly those three years would fly.  It seems like yesterday that I was meeting my roommate, and now we're both moving on together onto bigger and better things.  It also seems like yesterday that I landed in Berlin, Germany for my study abroad and felt instantly like I had finally found a place where I belonged, even though I had never been there before.

 Over the past year, I've convinced myself that my upcoming year at the school would be like a senior year; after all, it would be my fourth year at school.  But I'm realizing now that it won't be the same.  I will be a graduate student, taking a different load of courses, interacting with different people in my classes, and away from my friends that graduated with me.  It's time to accept that my undergraduate career is over; that although I will be here another year, the three years that I thought would last for forever have quickly come to an end.  It even seems like yesterday that I started my fall semester, entering my first graduate level class and becoming both a graduate and undergraduate student, completely sure of what I was doing yet totally terrified and underestimating myself.  This year was hard. I was challenged emotionally and mentally in ways that I had never experienced before.  I was stretched to my limits academically and somehow found myself (miraculously, at times) meeting those challenges.

When I look back on my years, I know they have been filled with yes, lots of academics and all-nighters and papers, but they have also been filled with accomplishments, challenges, friendships, and invaluable memories.  I would not be the person I am today without the friendship and support of various classmates, colleagues, and professors.  Without them, I would not have made it through the long nights of homework and stressful exam seasons without completely losing it.  I've completely changed since I entered college, and I consider that a good thing.  Equal parts more sure of myself and even more uncertain of myself,  my college career has ended, and I'm ready to move on to bigger things.

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