The weather’s getting warmer, classes are winding down and finals are looming, libraries are full to capacity, and summer is so close you can taste it.
My freshman year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is over, but I don’t want it to be. Mainly because I can’t imagine it getting any better than this.
I went into my freshman year with a lot of slanted expectations, and of course nothing ended up going exactly as I’d imagined. Some aspects of this year ended up going in an entirely different direction. But for that, I’m grateful. For the most part, I ended up being pleasantly surprised, both at the great opportunities that came my way as well as the things that I accomplished. I never knew what I could do until I was truly challenged.
You know you’re doing something right when everything seems to fall into place. Nine months later, I’m getting paid to write about brilliant, talented and interesting people (I still can’t believe this one), I have an amazing group of friends, I’ve been published on the front page of The Daily Illini, I was able to travel to a foreign country for the first time in my life thanks to the College of Media James Scholar Program, and I’ve seen my perspective on journalism and the rest of the world be enriched by my studies and experiences.
As a fifth-generation Illini, I have always loved this university. I went to basketball and football games my whole life, visited campus often, and dreamed of going to school here. I wrote in a sixth-grade journal that I wanted to study journalism at U of I one day, and here I am doing exactly that. I wish I could go back to my sixth-grade self and tell her all that I’ve done and accomplished, because I’m pretty sure she’d be shocked.
Though I’m sad this year is over, I’m looking forward to the opportunities that are bound to come my way as my college career continues. And I’m continually amazed by how blessed I have been this year, not only to have had so many opportunities and challenges, but for the friends I’ve made this year. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented, incredibly brilliant and all-around amazing people that have shared their experiences with me and opened up my small world to a much larger one. I’m more grateful for that than anything else I’ve experienced this year, and I’m so glad I get to spend the next three years with them.