I’m not going to lie and say that I had no idea what to expect when I moved in to the University Center for my Freshman year at Columbia. I had expectations — I had huge expectations. I knew I was paying a huge amount of money to go to this school, and I expected them to deliver on every one of those expectations. That was my first lesson: don’t have too many expectations for the big things. Because it’ll probably turn out not how you were expecting at all, and be entirely different…but maybe, that’s what you need.
I wanted to write a big long mushy post highlighting some of the best parts of my college career, but in typical fashion with the rest of my life right now, I totally ran out of time. Plus, I have quite a few pages highlighting each semester already, so why should I make the final one be any different? Plus, the last five months have been so jam-packed with things (both really difficult and really wonderful), so I can’t short-change my last semester.
But at the same time, you only graduate from undergrad once, and it’s been almost a week since my last studio time shift, and it still doesn’t feel totally real. I already hung up my honors stole, my cap, SGA medal, and tassel…and I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that I’m no longer a student of Columbia College Chicago.
That one fact has been a constant in my life. A safety net that I could always fall back on when I gave a weird answer or a strange reference in response and spew, “what can I say, I go to an arts school.” Being a student of Columbia shaped me really quickly, and helped me identify with people who were relatively like-minded. The community introduced me to other creatives. Other people who would sit around discussing audio editing software on a Saturday for fun. I discovered that there were tons of people out there who had similar interests to mine, and that I was probably going to be able to find them at this school, in this city.
Not long after moving, I started running. I like to think that my “athletic” life has been a major part of defining who I am in the last four years, and a large part of that is also (I think) because being an athlete is a bit of an anomaly at Columbia. Not only did I feel like an athlete because of my involvement with DCI, but I trained for and finished seven half marathons so far while living in Chicago. And this past January, I started my training for the Chicago Marathon (which is in October and wow it’s coming up quick). I never thought I’d take on a feat like that, even after finishing the half back in March 2014. 26.2 miles??? That’s crazy talk! But now it seems possible, and that’s crazy exciting.
Another big part of my college life has been work. I’ve held nine different (paying) jobs/internships within the city/suburbs of Chicago, and I’m so thankful for each and every one of them. Even the “shitty part-time jobs” taught me a lot about time management, working on teams, customer service, and assisted in the motivation factor to actually complete my undergrad degree. Even though I haven’t had one of those “shitty part-time jobs” since the J-term of my sophomore year, it still was a crucial part in helping me get the jobs that I love to work at now.
It’s getting late, and I work earlier tomorrow so I need to get to bed, but the thing that got my butt in gear and this post scrawled out is this: tomorrow night. I’m having a few friends over to see them all one last time before heading out for the summer and doing band for the last time as a performer. I’m looking through the list of those that were invited, and those that have said they’re coming; and I can’t help but look at these lists with a huge, stupid grin on my face. What amazes me is that a year ago, I would have had about five of these people on a list to invite over. Now, largely because of my two primary workplaces in the past year, I’m about to have an apartment full of people who I’m going to miss so fiercely over the next three months.
It took me awhile to find my groove in Chicago. I mean, I had friends in the radio department, and I had friends in SGA, and I had friends through CARA; but I didn’t feel like I had people I really spent time with outside of school/work. (That’s also partially due to drum corps and all of my long-distance friendships). I’m so, so thankful that I finally found my group, though. I would not have made it through the last five months (or the last academic year, really), without all of these people I’m about to have over tomorrow night. And for that, I feel beyond lucky.
Columbia gave me more things than I can count. True, maybe I would have gotten some of that if I went to a state school, but I think being in a city — being in this city — definitely played a huge part in all of it. I’m looking forward to being more focused, doing more things, learning/improving a lot, and meeting even more amazing people at DePaul this fall. Stay with us. I’m sure there’s more to come.