Nearing the end: A look back and nervous glance forward
13 weeks. By a rough estimate, that’s the imprecise remainder of time in which the excuse of being a college student is sufficient to explain my Netflix habits, granola appearance and the tendency to keep all my belongings in the backseat of my car.
This horrifying realization came up between roommates, all of whom are graduating in December due to scheduling and poor planning. A heavy somber silence enveloped the room as, in a state of horror, each of us quietly repeated the inevitable truth: 13 weeks.
How did I get to this point? It seems like yesterday that I was forestalling my degree to take backpacking, or bleeding out my college savings to take sea kayaking or paying what felt like a second tuition to Alyeska for the privilege of falling down their mountain twice a week.
I suspect the disconcerting part of the time crunch may be due to an unexpected absence I took after the first week of this semester, leaving me with the hollow comfort of thinking it was still the first week when it was really the fourth. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m only doing a bit of clean-up with a course or two, and only one in person. Whatever the reason, I’ve never felt less like a college student, yet been more surprised by the looming graduation.
Looking back over the previous four years is a bit of disturbing experience. After something like 42 classes, the little details start to all fade into a vast continuum of academic stress. Did you know that I was once a criminal justice major? Neither did I until I was going through old transcripts. Apparently, I once harbored a desire to be very unemployed until I swapped out psychology for economics as a major, which let’s be honest, is really just “money psychology” with a great deal more calculus.
I’ve lived in almost every habitable area on campus, from the halls, to a two year purgatory in the MAC’s in which I moved seven times, to a finally near-comfortable abode in the Templewoods. I’ve held just about every job here, including four years at The Northern Light and one humiliating semester spent selling my soul to beg for donations from alumni who had some very creative names to call me.
I have weird flashbacks to the forest that once inhabited the area where the Alaska Airlines Center stands, which was invariably filled with drunken voices and strange noises and was always a good place to avoid. Or that time during a run behind University Lake when I discovered a vast makeshift village of tents and tarps that vanished two days later when I ran back by. Back in the years of meaningful snowfall, I even once found a two story snow fort that may have been the most conspicuous deathtrap I’ve ever seen.
The experiences I’ve had through campus housing will fill chapters in books long after I’ve left. I’ve seen residents rappel out of windows using makeshift climbing harnesses, stumbled across what seemed to be glass blowing demonstration in an open garage and walked face first into a pillow-fort city that managed to block off an entire hallway.
Through it all, I still haven’t lost that college spirit, though for better or worse remains to be seen. I’m still more excited about the upcoming Doctor Who premier and the Pirate Pub Crawl than I am about prospective careers, and my list of short-term goals involves buying outdoor gear and learning photography rather than forcing myself through grad school.
After four and a half years, 42 classes and 114 columns I’m still no closer to understanding what was going on during my time here. The degree I’m solid on, at least that’s what I’m hoping to convince prospective employers. But the sheer insanity I’ve witnessed will take years to sort out.
This isn’t the end. I’ve still got another 13 columns to churn out, midterms to cram for and finals to bungle. Even when I’m graduated I’ll still be taking classes to advance the resume arms race I seem to be involuntarily competing in and the outdoor adventures and weekly shenanigans won’t be going anywhere soon.
Don’t worry. You aren’t being subjected to three more months of nostalgia. Far from it, as I intend to spend my final semester in blissful denial of the cap and gown that’s menacingly looming in the not so distant horizon.
So, 13 weeks. That’s loads of time. That’ll feel like eons. Hell, I could do anything in 13 weeks. Plenty of time to relax and reminisce and quietly transition to professional adulthood.
Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick.