Thanks for the Memories

Well, I’m back! Yes, the Evergreen campus is my home once more, and I have a feeling this semester is going to be pretty sweet. I spent the past two days in running pants and oversized t-shirts while writing, reading, arting, knitting, and planning for the next week or so. A comfortable and quiet weekend. It’s a nice buffer to the crazy weekdays.

But why does this even matter? Well, the chilling out time has allowed me to think about the past semester. Aaaand also think about what’s to come. You know, like, those questions everyone keeps asking me “What do you want to do with your life?” “What are your plans after you graduate?” (UGH) If you couldn’t tell, I don’t have the answers to those two questions. But I do have the opportunity to thank Loyola for the following Highlights of 2013.

The first thing I have to say thank you for is giving me the opportunity to explore. Not just Baltimore (although that’s pretty great). But also myself. For the past year, mainly through this blog I might add, I’ve been discovering new aspects of myself I hadn’t realized were there. Or maybe I knew they might be there, but I hadn’t taken any steps to access them. Loyola gave me the chance to write freely, in different styles, about unexpected topics, and without fear that my views would be mocked or rejected.

My second thank you goes out to the school’s faculty. This is probably the most obvious acknowledgment, but one that is very necessary. You challenge me to excel, and you expect nothing less than growth and improvement. Thank goodness. Because sometimes I lose my sense of motivation, and remembering the professors who said “You can do better” gets me out of bed and back to my desk (yes, I am very competitive with myself).

Perhaps this is also fairly obvious, but, well, to all my friends: You. Are. The. Best. And Loyola, thank you for hooking me up with them via the Alpha (now Messina) program, clubs, convenient lunch times, classes, and being a beautiful campus that everyone wants to be part of. You guys (and you know who you are) put up with so much of my crazy and I am so lucky to have you as part of my life. For those of you who may not know what this “crazy” is, I still say thank you for being part of my life, no matter how infrequently I get to see you!

And finally, thank you, Loyola, for sending me abroad. Last semester was…unbelievable. People say studying abroad changes you, but I didn’t realize how true that was until I returned. I’ve seen so many new places (and I can’t wait to see more), I’ve found out so much about myself, and I’ve met so many people I would never have encountered if I had stayed here. I’ve become more independent, organized, thoughtful, and open to new experiences. If someone told 13-year-old-me what I would be doing now, who I would become, I wouldn’t believe them. I don’t think even 18-year-old-me would quite believe it.

So where does this leave me? A little nostalgic, going through all those posts to find ones that I could link. But also excited. I’m 21, in a fantastic city, at an excellent school, with amazing people – I’m in control of my life. I have the power to say yes or no, to try new things, to choose where my life is headed. And to all of my fellow Greyhounds reading this: You have it, too. So get excited. Take your highlights from the past year and turn them into something spectacular.

Farewell Friends

Sometimes there’s so much I want to tell you, but I’m not sure how to start.
Sometimes there are weeks I stare at a blank Word document and have nothing to say.
Sometimes I’m afraid to type into that blank document because not everyone would be interested.
Sometimes I do it anyway.
Sometimes….

There are a lot of “Sometimes” in our lives. Not every one is pretty, and not every one dictates what we will ultimately do. It’s up to us to take those “Sometimes” and make them beautiful, make them count, make them worth our worries, heartache, and even hope.
As this year winds down, I’m left thinking about last year’s adventures and memories and wondering if 5 years from now I’ll be able to remember this year just as clearly. That the “Sometimes” of this year became an “Always” or maybe a “Never Again.” That the “Sometimes” helped me learn, grow, and become a better person. You are part of my “Sometimes.” And I really want to say Thank You.

Writing to you has been an experience I will never forget. It’s this weird combination of a journal entry, a college paper, a note to a professor, a biography, a recipe, and a letter to a friend. You’ve let me be myself in my writing, and for those who know me in person, thank you for letting me be myself everywhere else.

I have to say, I didn’t think I’d open up as much as I have, and I definitely didn’t think I’d write as much as I did. Can you believe this is my 40th post?!? Just..wow. Your encouragement and commentary have truly helped contribute to that.

I’m sure you know where this post is going. This is the end. Finals begin tomorrow. All my brain power and energy will be dedicated to Philosophy, Italian, Microeconomics, English, and Printmaking. Well, there may be a couple movies in there, some hanging out with friends, and a good dose of procrastination on Sunday (I do not want to face the reality of packing).

But I’ll be back! Come August I’ll be in Ireland, by September I’ll be choosing between Geography and Imagination in Antiquity and the Middle Ages and Ireland and the Beginnings of Europe for my upper-level history class. Somewhere in there I’ll start writing to you again, blogging from the Emerald Isle.

So, I guess this is where I say goodbye. I’m really going to miss this though. Maybe I’ll write for myself over the summer, like my friend Ben. Maybe not. But no matter what I do, I’m looking forward to sharing it with you in the future.

To fellow students: Good luck on your exams! To professors: I hope you have a relaxing break and good luck grading all those exams! To parents: Thank you for sticking with me and I hope you also have a relaxing time with your family. To any and all in between: Have a wonderful summer and many adventures!

Warming Up and Reaching High

You know those days that are so good that nothing can get you down? Everything is good: the weather, your lunch, the people you see & talk to, the lit exam you had that morning, you even feel great in your body.

Spring is officially here on the Evergreen campus.

I’m in such a good mood I’m even listening to Marry You by Bruno Mars!

Yeah, sure, the weather has a lot to do with it, but I think my very positive view of the world comes from some recent accomplishments I’ve been keeping from you guys (this blog isn’t supposed to be about me so much as the school, anyway). But I figured it should probably be known that Loyola really does honor students who put in a lot of time and effort into their work.

The first of these “nice things” that have been happening the past week is the phenomenal support I’ve been getting from you amazing readers. From a father whose daughter is looking at Loyola and has asked me some great questions to the senior who just told me he enjoys reading my work to the professors who compliment my style and ask if I’ve considered taking a class in their departments. Thank you all. You keep my spirits up and allow me to truly speak my mind. You are part of this blog just as much as I am.

Going along with this theme of recognition is the publication of The Forum, the school’s non-fiction literary book featuring the winners of the First Year Essay contest and other class writings. Last year I wrote a paper on how college campus stereotyping can have a greater influence on future social choices than we expect. As proud as I am to have tied for fourth place, I’m even more proud to say that I know the first place winner, Chandler Zolliecoffer. Her piece on self perception and personal development in the African American community through the role of her hair was amazing. Her mature writing style and combination of personal anecdotes make a riveting expository paper. I was lucky enough to take a photography class with her last year and her art pieces were just as stunning as her writing.

Loyola doesn’t just publish wonderful writers, but also displays student artwork in the annual student show in the Julio Fine Arts Gallery. As I walked by the gallery today to get lunch at boulder, I saw my cyborg piece from last semester’s Life Drawing class front and center. I’m pretty sure I was grinning non-stop for the rest of the walk through the College Center. However, as cool as it is that one of my pieces in the show, I can’t wait to see my fellow students’ work. My friends Christine and Amanda have some spectacular drawings and prints from their classes this year, and as seniors I know they’re going to excel in the art world after graduation.

It’s getting pretty warm out here on the Humanities porch and I’m pretty sure I’m sunburned (even though I’ve only been out here for an hour or so), but there’s one more thing I want to mention about Loyola’s tradition of celebrating students’ successes.

Weekend before last was the annual Dean’s List luncheon, an hour or two of good food, inspiring speeches, and much gratitude given to students and parents alike. To make Dean’s List, a student must maintain a GPA of 3.5 and take 15 credits each semester. Given that most, if not all, courses at Loyola are challenging in one way or another, earning this achievement is a huge confidence booster. As I looked around at the tables surrounding me at the lunch, I saw many familiar faces: friends, classmates, even students I see on my breaks between classes. It’s comforting to know there are so many people here who care about the intellectual spirit of the school and dedicate so much of their time to learning not just for the grade, but for the sake of knowledge itself.

So now that it’s about 75 degrees and my computer is uncomfortably warm on my slightly pink legs, I think it’s time for me to cool off with a cold drink inside. I’ll make sure to end this beautiful day with a bang though!