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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Washington chapter.

In what seems like the blink of an eye, my sophomore year of college has almost come to an end. Just two weeks from now, I will be back at home in California, starting my summer job, reuniting with my hometown friends, and sleeping in my childhood bedroom. That being said, just like this time last year, I am met with an abundance of mixed feelings about the school year being over. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am over-the-moon with excitement about many things: spending long days at the beach with my hometown friends, going thrifting with my little sister, movie nights with my parents, having time to rest and relax. Still, I cannot help but feel a pang of sadness when I think about saying goodbye to this school year—all the new friends I’ve made, the memories I’ve created, the routine I’ve begun to cherish. The craziest part of it all, at least for me, is the notion that I’ve nearly completed two out of four years of my college career; I’m halfway through with being an undergraduate here at the University of Washington. 

It feels like just yesterday that I was driving with my parents to UW—the butterflies in my stomach getting more and more intense the closer we got—with all my belongings piled in the trunk. Little did I know that over the course of the next two years, I would have some of the happiest moments of my life thus far. Even looking back to all my anxiety and apprehension at the beginning of this year, I can now confidently say that my second year of college was even better than my first. On that note, here are my three biggest takeaways from this year: 

1. The importance of taking risks and saying “yes”

All my life, I have been an overwhelmingly cautious person—I think things a million times over in my head before doing them. In many cases, this is a strength of mine; it has helped me make informed decisions and stay safe throughout much of my life. Being overly cautious, coupled with my introverted nature, has also had its downfalls though; specifically, missing out on opportunities because I am too afraid to take a risk. Whether this is making fun memories with my friends, speaking up in class, or going on a spontaneous adventure, I have often been too afraid to say “yes” to anything that frightens me. 

So, at the onset of this year, I decided that—to the best of my abilities—I was going to try and step out of my comfort zone. Though it was difficult, and I definitely took small steps, I can confidently say that over the course of this year, I have made some of the best memories and had some of the most exciting experiences simply because I had the courage to try, or the courage to say “yes,” or the courage to quiet the voice in my head that always worries about what might go wrong, replacing it with what might go right. 

2. The Importance of appreciation

On the flipside of stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing spontaneity, I have also learned the importance of slowing down and appreciating things. The phrase “stop and smell the roses,” while cliche, is something I have been working to embody in my day-to-day life, prompting me to slow down and be thankful for what I have and where I am at. Especially with everything going on in the world in this day and age, something as simple as noticing a single, brightly colored flower while on a run reminds me of how lucky I am to be alive and to be surrounded by such beautiful things. 

Oftentimes, when I remember, I make a point to write down three things I am grateful for before I go to bed—anything from “great dinner tonight” to “aced my exam” to “smiled at a stranger.” This small act of slowing down and taking inventory of all the amazing things in my life has helped ground me this year, which is something that I am very proud of. 

3. The importance of being passionate

One of the amazing things that I have become increasingly grateful for this year has been the freedom to curate my schedule each quarter, especially now that I am done with all of my “General Education” requirements. I have always been confident in what I want to do career-wise, and so becoming an English major was a no-brainer for me coming into UW. Yet, when I reflect back on my high school years or even last school year, I recall getting burnt out and bored after the first few weeks of a semester or quarter; I simply wasn’t invested in my classes or what I was learning. 

Comparatively, this school year, the freedom to take classes specifically for my major and minors—programs that I am actually passionate about—has reignited the thirst for knowledge that I have been lacking. Rather than going through the motions of school just to get a good grade, I have rekindled my passion and curiosity, allowing me to find joy in the process of learning and discovering, rather than just thinking about my grades. As I head into my final two years of college, this is something I will certainly be carrying with me. 

All in all, my sophomore year of college has been one of the best, most transformative years of my life. For anyone who is devastated to be closing the page on their freshman year of college, as I was last year, just know that another incredible year is waiting for you; remember to take risks, find moments of appreciation, and be passionate! 

Tara Boyd

Washington '26

Tara is a second year student at the University of Washington. She is studying English Literature and hopes to one day be an author. In her free time, Tara can be found reading, dancing, going to concerts, and spending time with loved ones!