October has always been my favorite month. As an everything-pumpkin-flavored connoisseur and a scarf and boots aficionado, nothing warms my heart like a brisk autumn day with a cup of coffee in my hands, leaves changing from green to yellow to orange, and the smell of a bonfire in the distance. But this autumn brings a bittersweet feeling that I’ve realized has encompassed almost every moment of my senior year: the combination of delight for the most exciting flashes of life and the dread that this little world I’ve made for myself in the Vanderbilt bubble of Nashville, Tennessee is quickly coming to an end.
This semester, I am doing a capstone internship for my major, which consists of a three-hour class on Mondays, then working 8:30am-5:00pm Tuesday through Friday. As I hear my alarm sound at 5:45 am, stumble out of bed to eat a piece of fruit before my morning workout, and blow dry my hair post-workout for a day of work, I can’t help but feel as if I’ve already lost my college self. My former uniform of a messy ponytail and exercise clothes has been replaced by blown out hair and slacks. As much as we complain about whatever our current realities are, I genuinely miss the excitement of the first day of classes and the sheer intelligence that exists in the air of the lecture halls. I miss scribbling notes as the professor rattles off her knowledge, and staying up late reading books written by economists about international development, or solving puzzles for my logic class. And yet, despite missing all of these things, I know they’re not quite over yet. I still have one more semester – one more opportunity to dive into academics and engross myself in the knowledge-absorbing intensiveness that is college.
With the taste of adulthood lingering, but the knowledge that college is not quite over, there is an eagerness in me that has driven the most activity-filled fall semester yet. Upon moving back to Nashville into an off-campus apartment with the girls I met on my freshman year hall who have transitioned from being mere acquaintances three years ago to my forever friends, I have jumped into Vanderbilt life. Finally being 21 in a city with some of the most vibrant night-life, I have taken a tour across the best bars and 21+ activities the city has to offer. From Saturday evenings on the downtown rooftop bar, Acme, to the touristy experience of riding a pedal tavern, I have seen a side of Nashville that wasn’t available until my senior year.
After missing football season last year (due to living in Barcelona), Saturday tailgates and football games are just as exciting this year as they were when we were fresh to Vanderbilt’s campus three years ago. Luckily for us, we have eight home games this year, giving us the opportunity to dress in black and gold and support our finally decent football team almost every weekend.
With every weekend, I have aimed to do something new. Try a new restaurant, do a new activity, experience Nashville in a way that I haven’t before. From driving to the small town of Franklin to going bowling at the trendy Pinewood Social, I have been able to take full advantage of the city that surrounds my little college oasis. For the first time, I feel as if I actually live in Nashville, and not just on the tree-filled city block that is my beautiful college campus. As I sit at my apartment’s counter and look outside to the picturesque Vanderbilt campus, I recognize that my physical state reflects my emotional: I am stuck between Vanderbilt and the real world, living in the limbo that is one’s senior year of college.
Last week, I attended an event for my internship that was focused on the “Business of Nashville.” Various entrepreneurs and business owners attended the event. Of everything I heard that day, one quote stood out to me. “As adults, we tend to understand how the world works. But kids, they have this idea, and then they go with it…They sell fruit punch on the side of the road for 25 cents and it works.”
May I forever recognize that what is today may not be tomorrow, may I constantly be thankful for the blissful moments in every stage of life, and may I never pass a lemonade stand without stopping and giving my 25 cents.