As a Boston University alum, I wanted to use my time in Boston to reflect on my college experience and get a grip on where I’ve come in the past seven years since I was a freshman. College seemed like golden years filled with friends, laughter and learning. The years following seemed filled with ipecac and drudgery. WTF. I wanted some answers.
In search of said answers, I ended up going step by step through all my old haunts, my old classroom buildings, my senior year apartment, the grocery stores I frequented, my favorite bathrooms, etc. etc. and remembering what it was like to be in those places just a couple of years ago.
Who was I then? How have I changed? What does that experience mean for me now as a 24-year old?
I walked pace by pace through the campus and felt the memories wash over me and allowed myself to be wildly sentimental and nostalgic for a time in my life that I loved. And I wrote it all down and went to Espresso Royale (now called Pavement), a cafe that I used to frequent along with many other BU students, and I sat for five hours and tried to make sense of it all, who I was and who I am, where I was going and where I’m going now, and what all that has to do with my place in life and community. It was a lot of a lot.
I think I formed some rough conclusions on it, which I’m sure I’ll laugh at in a couple of years, but that’s okay. But for now at least, I’d like to share some of these with you.
My world now is much bigger. In college, I didn’t know how far down the rabbit hole went. Possibilities were limited to what I knew, even though my ignorance was vast. Life seemed complicated, but it mostly had to do with very specific complications around choosing classes, housing, friend stuff and the ever impending future that always seemed kind of far away until it wasn’t. I didn’t know that even the first year out of college would dwarf many of my collegiate experiences in terms of complication, difficulty, and education about the real world.
In college, I invested time every week – oftentimes more than once a week – in the same group of people. I ate at least one meal a day with someone, and stayed within the same two mile region for 90% of the time. I didn’t fully realize how my community was the bedrock of my college experience, how it imbued everything I did meaning. Even the things I did alone were more meaningful because I brought them back to the people I loved.
I made many mistakes, and I made many decisions that seem foolish now though they were the best decisions I could make at the time with limited knowledge. I learned much, but I did not learn everything and had no idea how much there was still to know upon graduation. I still don’t know the extent of it.
I was lucky to have a wonderful collegiate experience, where the only goal was to make good grades and good friends. Making money (for me) had nothing to do with it. Life has changed now and there are more things to consider, but I accept college for what it was, an anomaly. I can’t go back there, and it’s time to do something more than get a high GPA.
But I will take a couple of things with me always: the importance and necessity of community, the value of learning for learning’s sake, and how to have a good time with friends without spending any money.