Twenty days to go. That’s all that I have left of my college career. Sure, I could decide a few months or years from now that I want to head to graduate school to get my master’s degree but for now, 20 days is all that stands between me and my bachelor’s degree in English teaching. All I can say is that four years sure flew by quickly. So, what better way to start wrapping them up than to reflect on what I’ve learned here at UNH.
I spent so much time thinking that I wasn’t involved on campus because I wasn’t a regular member of any clubs. During my first year, I had tried to get involved but time and fear got in the way. I didn’t want to go to meetings if I didn’t know anyone. I was shy and a little scared to be anywhere near upperclassmen during my first few months on campus. Looking back now though, not being in clubs didn’t mean that I wasn’t involved.
This is where my first lesson comes from. Involvement is what you make of it.
I may not have been at the MUB one night a week for a club meeting, but I joined the Fairchild Hall Council during my sophomore and junior years and the Gables Residence Council during my senior year. I also always tried to make it to as many events as I could around campus. Sure, I wasn’t an organizer but I was still participating and involved in some way. Find activities around campus that make you happy. Let’s face it, these four years are probably the last time you’ll be heading off to Sex Ed Bingo (or any Bingo), or standing for the entirety of a sporting event.
Look For Help, It Is Always There
You may not realize that you need help or really want to put the effort in to get it but it is always there. UNH wants to help all of us succeed. Whether you get cold medication from Health Services so that you can make it to class or head to office hours every once in a while, help is always available. This is something I wish I had realized much earlier in my career, but I was stubborn and wanted to prove to myself that I could make it without any help. Which is kind of ridiculous when you think about it. In the end, and over my four years on campus, I learned to seek the help that I needed. I turned to hall directors for quick chats and friends to complain about assignments and pull all-nighters. The UNH community was always there and always will be, even after the class of 2016 leaves.
It Is OK To Sit Alone
One of the biggest things I learned at UNH is that it is OK to be alone. People don’t care about what you are doing as much as you think they do. When I first came to UNH in August 2012 for Wildcat Days and move-in, the thought of eating alone in HoCo was terrifying. If I couldn’t find anyone to eat with, I would stay in my dorm room and just eat a Pop tart. Not the best decision. Four years later, I love eating alone. OK, maybe “love” is not the best word, but I’m comfortable with it. I’m more than content grabbing a table myself and reading while I eat my lunch. No one is judging anyone for sitting alone. And while I will never turn down the opportunity to enjoy a meal with friends, there is nothing wrong with eating by myself. Or doing anything on my own, really. There’s nothing I love more than heading to the MFA in Boston (for free — thanks UNH!) and exploring for hours on my own. I am able to go at my own pace and don’t have to worry about other people. I highly recommend trying this.
Friends Come and Go
What people don’t tell you when you start college is that you don’t have to be best friends with your roommates or the people on your floor. At the minimum, you just need to try and get along. Over the course of four years, friends have come and gone, and that is OK. There is no need to try and keep up friendships that are harmful to you. My favorite friends are low-maintenance. The ones where you could go days or weeks without talking but you are able to pick up right where you left off when you next see one another. College leads to a busy life and sometimes friendships have to come second to school work. That is OK. It is also OK to realize that you don’t want to be friends with someone any more. Not all friendships are forever. The ones that are are special.
Kindness Goes a Long Way
This sounds like a basic lesson that we all learn in elementary school but it is one that you remember a lot in college. One of my favorite things about UNH is how kind and friendly everyone is. From random smiles to everyone holding doors for each other, this is a campus that works hard to show everyone a little bit of kindness. Sure, like any college, you have a few students who aren’t the shining example of kindness but, for the most part, everyone will hold a door or fill you in on what you missed in class. The community of kindness that we all contribute to goes a long way in making everyone feel welcomed and accepted. Going forward in life and adulthood, this is a lesson that we should all carry with us. You never know how much of an impact a little bit of kindness can have on someone’s day.
On top of these life lessons, of course, there are all of the academic lessons that UNH has taught me. But those are a given. UNH has taught us so much and now, class of 2016, it is time to take those lessons and apply them to adulthood and our lives after Wildcat Country. Thanks for a great four years; I wouldn’t trade them for the world. And remember: Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat!