three years, four walls

Written Monday, April 24th: Last Day of Undergraduate Classes at Vanderbilt University 

“Happy last day of classes of junior year!!!”

As I’m scrambling to pack my laptop in my backpack, while reciting General Logic definitions in my head and listening to the combined sound of the most basic, on-sale, average-coffee-making Keurig chugging away and my faulty printer spewing papers out across the floor of my single dorm room, my wrist vibrates and I see the most simple of messages slide across my new Apple Watch screen (it was a prize; I know, you’re probably thinking that you never win prizes – neither do I. But alas, here I am sporting the slightly obnoxious, but oh-so-sleek piece of technology).

How is it the last day of classes? I feel like just last week I was lugging my life into this 10×12 box-of-a-room. And yet, today marks the end of my junior year classes. Four months have disappeared without me even noticing. The end of junior year feels different. There’s something somber about realizing that these next 10 days will include my last moments padding across the moldy Towers II bathrooms in zebra-striped shower shoes and these days will mark my final times filling my water bottle in the communal hall water fountain while attempting to avoid the inevitable stray noodle stuck in the drain (I am eternally perplexed by whoever thinks the water fountain is the place to dispose of day-old Chinese takeout).

Next year, I’ll be living off-campus (as in across the street) in a “grown-up” apartment with my two best friends who I met on my freshman year hall. We’ll have our own bedrooms, our own kitchen, and thankfully, our own bathroom (there isn’t a single part of me that thinks I will miss hall bathrooms). I’ll be completing my Capstone Internship at a wealth management firm during the fall semester, waking up before 8:00am to pack my lunch, dress in business casual, and drive to work like a proper adult. I won’t have a normal class schedule during that fall semester, and I won’t be living on campus. As excited as I am to leave dorm room living behind, a part of me will miss how distinctively college it feels to enter the depths of Towers II at midnight, making a late-night run to Munchie Mart, or what it’s like to lose sleep because the person in the dorm room next to me is blaring music until 1:00am. I’ll miss my morning breakfast of microwaved eggs and the simplicity of my tiny collection of kitchen utensils (one bowl, one plate, one mug, 2 forks, 2 knives, 2 spoons). On the other hand, I won’t miss washing my clothes in the shared laundry room, nor will I reminisce about the neon-red lights from the Chili’s across the street that leaks into my room after the sky turns black.

But at the same time, I met my closest college friends on my first dorm room hall. I’ve spent countless late nights sitting on the floors of my friends’ dorm rooms, laughing for hours about nothing particularly amusing, and I’ve gotten ready for years of date parties and group dinners under the shine of the distinctive fluorescence that comes with dorm room lighting. I’ve written papers and applied for internships from my small dorm room desk, I’ve completed countless Kayla Itsines ab workouts on a yoga mat spread across those vinyl dorm room floors, and I’ve spent a number of pre-tailgate Saturday mornings dancing and belting out the lyrics of Keith Urban and One Direction songs in the various dorm rooms of my college friends.

There’s just something quintessentially college about a dorm room. For three years, I have complained that my friends at other schools have had nicer living arrangements than us Vanderbilt students, for many never even lived in a typical no-frills dorm room (with no sink, bathroom, kitchen, common room etc.). But as I look back, I wouldn’t change my dorm room living for the world. Despite the fact that some of these buildings haven’t been updated in seven decades, they have character (though that sometimes comes in the form of moldy showers and ill-functioning heating systems).

As this weekend closed the last tailgates of the year, I thought about how it was probably my last time celebrating any event within the tight space of a college dorm. It won’t be so easy to see all of my friends next year when I’m working 8:30am-5:00pm and we’re not all living in the same building, but then again, we’re all graduating in a year and it definitely won’t be so simple when we’re scattered across the map. Moving out of a dorm is a stepping stone to a bigger move that will come in just twelve months.

Although I’m definitely not ready to think about that large-scale change quite yet, I hope that as I experience this mini-move, I make every possible effort to treasure each moment that I have left on this campus and in this city. With twelve months left as a college student, I must remember to appreciate the simplicity that college life has to offer (even in the upgraded space of my new apartment). As I pass through the next years and the many years after, I hope to never forget the laughs, the tears, the hugs, the dance moves, and most importantly, the friendships made over the past three years within the four walls of my Vanderbilt dorm rooms.



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