A lot of my friends graduated from the University of Texas (my Alma Mater) this past weekend, and seeing all of their excited faces in their caps and gowns flood my Facebook feed got me feeling super nostalgic about my own graduation day (exactly one year ago! Yeesh)! It was such a proud and happy day that I had no time to be sad about how my life in college had just come to an end. I refused to think about it, actually. Even days after graduating, I pushed the sadness out of my mind since it still just felt like another regular school year gone by, and I was already looking forward to my fun plans for the summer. When summer came to an end, the sadness still never hit because I was instantly thrown into the "real world" where finding a career path became the priority. But now it's officially been an entire year for me without school, and seeing my old friends going through the same motions as I did has actually made me reflect on the years that made me who I am today.
So many moments, small and big, replay in my mind when I think about my stay at UT. I remember moving into a tiny dorm my freshmen year, and all the elevator trips it took going up to it on the 13th floor. I remember the big "welp, this is it" looks exchanged with my parents as they left me on my own for the first real time in my life. I remember thanking the heavens that a few of my best friends were able to come to the same university as me which made me feel like I wasn't in this thing alone, and I also felt the separation slowly take it's toll with the friends that chose different schools in other cities. I remember being homesick a lot. I remember living off Ramen noodles and Wendy's chicken nuggets (hey, it was right downstairs) that entire year and showing up to my 8 AM class in pajamas. I remember realizing that college work was not as easy as it was in high school, and I would actually have to try from now on. I remember going to my first UT football game and being taken aback by how gigantic the stadium was (this is when I finally took the time to understand the sport as well, haha).
When I became an upperclassmen, I got better acquainted with the city of Austin and eventually fell in love with it. I didn't miss my hometown as much anymore. I remember getting accepted into Forever Texas (a social/service organization) and instantly becoming friends with about 50 awesome girls, and I suddenly had all these opportunities to get really involved with my school. Every event my university put on for its students, I was there (and proud of it). I remember turning 21 and going out for my first time on 6th Street and kinda feeling like an actual adult (almost). I remember the bus ride I took to school from my apartment each day and seeing the same view of our school's tower greet me in the morning light as I got off at my stop. I remember the late nights studying while forcing myself to stay awake and that same anxious feeling right before every test, no matter how prepared I was. I remember falling out of love with the only person I had been with throughout college, and then finding new love in an unexpected place despite my hesitations. I remember walking out of my last class ever on that last day of school and going to sit on the front steps of the tower just to take it all in.
It's kind of funny how I've been out of college for a year, yet I still consider myself living the "post-grad life" as well as associate the year in terms of spring/fall semesters, haha. My time at UT seems so long ago, but when I really stop to think about all the memories I've had and people I've shared them with, it kinda feels like it was just yesterday. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would. The only thing I would change is taking my time to enjoy each day instead of trying to rush through each semester just to get to Christmas break or summer vacation. I'm grateful to still be in Austin for the time being and am excited for the next step in my life, but every time I drive by my school and see the tower mixed in with the city skyline, I can't help but miss those good ol' days.
Congrats to all the recent UT grads, and hook 'em \m/