Visiting a place you called home for sometime and then moved far away from always brings forth a plethora of emotions and self-learning. Last weekend, I visited a place I called home for four years of my life. Perhaps if you live a long life, four years seems a very short period. However, it is these four years that have really shaped me into the person I am today. I am of course talking about my college town – Charlottesville, Virginia.
Most 20-somethings/recent graduates grapple with college nostalgia. College truly lays the foundation of exploration, helping us in the following and more- discovering things we are passionate about, adjusting to life away from home, making lifelong friendships, questioning our own beliefs and forming new identities for ourselves. Of course, we do these things after we graduate too. In fact, at the University of Virginia, we don’t refer to ourselves as “Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors” but rather as “First, Second, Third and Fourth years” because our founder, Thomas Jefferson said that education never really ends. In that respect, I am currently a “Sixth year.” We use the foundation that college creates, to explore and educate ourselves for the rest of our lives.
My friend drove us in his minivan along route 29 last Sunday, which is the familiar road leading to our campus. I was reminded of the first time my family friends drove me and my parents down this road. Having never visited an American college campus before, I expected to see grand, sky-reaching silver gates with the sign “University of Virginia” embellished at the top, welcoming me to my new world. I was disappointed when I realized that this didn’t really exist.
We passed by familiar places, at each of which I associated different memories– a trek to the Teppan Yaki restaurant in the cold with no idea where it really was, a 2AM run to Harris Teeter to buy pancake ingredients to cook/eat while watching cricket world cup matches, a 6am trip to Bodos bagels café after having spent the entire night studying at the library, and so many more.
After eating and walking around, one of my friends’ and I began to chat with each other as though it was January 2009, and we were still second years in college.
Friend: Hey whats up?
Me: Hey! Not much just reading for class. Can you believe we already have work so early in the semester?
Friend: I know seriously. I wish we were working instead. It must be so much easier. You work 9-5 and then do nothing after that.
Me: I know. College life is so hard. Working must be heavenly. *[As Jessica Darling would say – hardy-har-har]
This roleplaying act made me think of the classic “If I knew then, what I know now…” I never would have thought back then, that I would end up living in New York, or that I’d be working at a big corporation, or that I’d even become as close as I am now to the friend I was having this conversation with! Great as things are now with life in the Big City, I will always be grateful to the experiences along the way that brought me here. And in my “Sixth year” I hope to learn, explore, grow further, and create more experiences worth reminiscing.