Yeah, buddy! I did it!
My college journey started with a 30-hour plane ride. I remember sitting in London’s Heathrow airport, nervous about my decision to spend the next four years of my life in a country that I had never visited, at a school that I had never seen. All I knew about Wash. U. was that they had sent me at least one piece of mail every week-yes, even in India, I was bombarded by those mailings-and that St. Louis was pretty close to Chicago. Looking back now, I am so glad I made this decision. I am fortunate to have had an opportunity that only a few people in my country are able to experience. I have had the chance to be a part of so many worthwhile causes and organizations, both on campus and in the greater community. And finally, I am lucky to have met incredible people during my time at Wash. U., and develop close personal relationships with so many of them over the last four years.
Being an international student has been both the best and the most challenging part of my Wash. U. experience. My friends often joke about the very strong Indian accent that I had when I came here (and still have today!), and the fact that I had never really met a “white person” before I came to Wash. U.. I remember being overwhelmed by American culture when I arrived and not knowing how to react when people made “magic carpet” jokes. However, this has also been a great learning experience, not just the jokes, but sharing my culture with people around me and learning “the American way” to expel some of the ignorance I faced. After finding my niche at Wash. U., the sense of accomplishment I feel now at the end of my time here is extremely rewarding.
When I try to think of one or two things that made the last four years memorable, it is hard to point to anything specific. There have been so many unforgettable experiences: my freshman floor, memories of the old Bear’s Den and Ike’s Place that graduate with our class, the countless opportunities to get involved on campus, Mexican pizzas at Taco Bell, the SWA sit-in, Grey’s Anatomy with my pre-med friends, Diwali, two years of the Dave Ader regime, Thursday nights at Blue Hill and Morgan Street, my last W.I.L.D., forming a close friendship with my sister.I have enjoyed these and many more.
The one thing common to all of these, speaking for myself and the most of the senior class, is the amazing people we have had a chance to get to know. The relationships vary for all of us; they may be your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, your freshman floor friends, your study partners, people from various organizations that you have met and spent a considerable amount of time with, your advisors, your residents if you were an RA, and your roommates and suitemates. The bottom line is that these friendships defined our time here at Wash. U. It is easy to take these friends for granted. So I encourage all of us, before we leave, to remember to take the time and say thank you. Send an email or write a card saying how much they meant to you. Reminisce some of those moments you shared that you will cherish forever.
It is weird to think that in a matter of a week, all of us will be on our way to something new, something different, something exciting. All of my friends will be in different parts of the world: Seattle, Chicago, London, San Francisco, China, St. Louis, New York. All of us say that we will keep in touch. We will wish we were back in college, and we may even continue some college relationships. But I offer a piece of advice that one of my friends gave me last week regarding life after college has really in my mind:
Take time out to myself. Try and take the next year or so of my life to go out and explore every opportunity available to me. It is about using what I have learned and my experiences over the past four years to find my niche in the real world and establish a base for what we want to accomplish in life. This does not mean breaking off every connection and relationship from the past, but it does mean moving on with an open mind to experience new successes (and failures). This will be something new and maybe even a little scary, but it is the next step we all must take in order to grow. I’m sure that some of you will disagree as I originally did, but I urge all of us to stop and think about this for a moment. This is our time.
The last four years have really flown by. If there is one thing I could tell the underclassmen reading this I would reiterate the clichâ€š “to make the most of your time here at Wash. U.,” but also to consciously decide how you want to use your time at Wash. U., and use it well. That way, when you look back at Commencement, you can kick back with a beer and say, “Yeah buddy! I did it!” with no regrets.
To the class of 2006, I guess it’s too late for us to set any more goals for college. I would say let’s go out and be ridiculous because we’re done, but Senior Week pretty much accomplished that. So, let’s be proud. If nothing else, each of us has earned a $160,000 certificate of achievement we can show off to everyone! Celebrate now, try to take time off for yourself, and enjoy the realities of the “real world.”
“A milestone passed, new things begun, dreams as shining as the sun, a goal achieved, a victory won! That’s Graduation!” – Unknown
Cheers and good luck!
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