My Farewell Letter to College—Thank You For Everything

Graduation is three weeks away, and I’m faced with the fact that my academic career is (probably, and finally) over. I’ve spent the last sixteen years in school, getting through year after year, and assignment after assignment. But, school wasn’t just assignments, of course. I’ve gone through metamorphosis many times over in my time as a student and learned lessons far beyond the classroom. Boston University has been home to me for the last four years, and now, I’m realizing what that impact truly means as I prepare to say goodbye.

I “missed” my first fall semester at BU because I was a student in the College of General Studies London program for freshmen. That meant I had a gap semester in the fall, my spring semester in Boston, and a semester in London from May through June. It was an awkward structure, but ultimately, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The fall at home was hard. I watched all my high school friends move away to college, and was left home, alone, to work at the local restaurant and save my money for school. I remember people constantly telling me I must be so excited to get to BU, and I was, but it felt like something almost unreachable for some time. I knew I would be going, but not actually being there, when I felt I was supposed to be, felt really strange. I know many other kids in the same program as me took that time to pursue internships or travel, but I didn’t quite know what career path to follow at that time, nor did I have the funds to explore the world. So that fall, I learned to have patience in my future.

January of 2016 arrived in a snowy blur. My parents stuffed me and all of my belongings into the family Volkswagen and made the familiar two-hour drive to Boston. I was welcomed to a somewhat unconventional first move-in with freezing winds and chunky snow, but I was excited nonetheless. I moved into Myles Standish Hall on the ninth floor, in a room that had a sizeable bay window looking out onto Kenmore Square. The Citgo sign flashed white, red, and blue through the panes and lit up my entire room at night. There, I would rest my bare feet on the windowsill, careful to avoid the areas where the paint was peeling, revealing splintering wood underneath. I’d watch the strangers on the street nine floors below bustle around the square, making their way home, or to work, or to the Red Sox game that was happening that night. My roommate that semester was from Shanghai, and we chatted every now and then, sharing not much more than a friendly tolerance. I loved Myles, and I found its age to have a cozy, vintage touch (although the basement kind of creeped me out). I remember moving in on MLK Weekend, excited to have the extra day to explore the city. I ran around Newbury Street, Back Bay, and The Boston Common in my winter boots and furry coat, filled with wonder at the tall buildings and lively streets.

From that May in 2016, when I came home from my first semester of college to now, April of 2019, so many things have changed—as they should have. But sometimes, we need to take the time to validate them; to acknowledge what happened. There are celebrations along this journey called life, and there are also grievances. There are tragedies and casualties as we make our way through the many months of a calendar, academic or otherwise. I’d like to say that my time in college was traditional, like a garden with only a few weeds here and there that could be easily plucked. It wasn’t so. Many challenges came to light that I never expected before. But, that’s life, isn’t it? We find ourselves in situations that perhaps, at that time, no one else seems to be going through. Situations we weren’t taught how to deal with in school. But, at the very least, we’ve been taught how to learn. So, my time in college has, in a way, cracked me open like a nutshell, but it’s brought out my very core and shone a light on who I am inside.

Because BU is set in a city, I found myself with no excuse but to explore what Boston had to offer. Before I came to BU, many of my classmates from home (a rural town in Connecticut) complained that they weren’t interested in BU because it “had no campus.” Sure, I could definitely see that, if a “campus” is only defined as sprawling, fertilized lawns and castle-like buildings in a town not known for anything other than the university that has eaten it. While BU does have lawns and castle-like architecture, we’re padded with skyline, in the guts of which many career opportunities and cultural experiences lurk. I’ve loved every minute of living in Boston, even in the times when it felt dark. I’ve loved living up high, watching planes come and go from Logan Airport. I’ve loved going from jumping out of my skin at the sound of a bus horn, to being (almost) unphased by the T’s 150-decibel blast. I’ve loved the parades on Superbowl Sunday when the Patriots won (yes, they won every year I’ve been here), and I can never forget Marathon Monday. I’ve loved growing accustomed to city life, but also, I’m thankful for being hardened by it.

I spent my years at BU going off-campus most of the time to box. BU didn’t have a boxing team, and I knew that the best boxing gyms weren’t going to be nestled up in the wealth of Back Bay. I went to where I knew the fighters would be, even if I knew I would stick out like a sore thumb. I learned to always carry pepper spray on me at the very least, and how to walk without looking small. I earned confidence, strength, and perseverance from this city. Not only that, but I earned a fervor for journalism and justice, which pushed me to go abroad again my senior fall to intern in Washington, D.C. (which is also now set to be my post-grad destination).

I’m thankful for the gifts this city has given me in all its little delicacies, like the tulips in the Gardens, or the daffodils sitting along the Esplanade. I’m thankful for the history, the music, and the absolute life. I’m so thankful for you, Boston.

Until we meet again.

 

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