Like many Illinois students, I’m (still) recovering from the transition from spring break back to real life. Some call it the spring break blues, which is an accurate way to describe how I’m dealing with returning from sunny Florida back to gloomy, rainy Illinois.
But I’ve also found the time to sit, reflect and be grateful. Every spring break I’ve had while I’ve been a student at the University of Illinois has brought me new experiences and new memories with friends.
My freshman year, I traveled to Belgium and France with a group of students from the College of Media. It was my first time out of the United States, and it was an experience I will never forget. Being from a small, rural town in Illinois, this trip was what made me realize just how much was out there, and just how much I wanted to explore.
The next year I got the opportunity to travel to London, again with fellow media students. No one can really prepare you for what you’ll gain from a trip abroad, and you don’t always expect that what you’ll gain are friends and perspective.
Each trip has brought me new friends or has allowed me to grow closer to the friends I have. Without these people, my experiences wouldn’t have been the same.
In Belgium, I wouldn’t have the memories of walking down the street at midnight with my friends, laughing about something I don’t remember.
In London, I wouldn’t have the memories of navigating our way around London on our own, or laughing uncontrollably with my friends about something we found in a gift store.
And from this past week, I wouldn’t have the memories of standing on a beach in Florida, watching the sun go below the horizon with my best friends.
There is value in being alone, but there is value in being together — in experiencing something new with the people you love. It solidifies that the moment you experience together becomes a memory.
Each spring break, I’ve returned back to campus with these new memories, memories that I carry with me as I return to normal life. And this year, these memories are all the more bittersweet. But they’ve given me perspective on these final few weeks of classes that will be full of finishing up final projects and soaking up all that senior year has to offer.
This year, I’m thinking about the memories that we make without even knowing — the things that I’ll miss about college life when my friends have moved away and we start new chapters of our life. The late nights spent studying, the unconventional meals made in my kitchen, the laughs we have over dumb things we’ll soon forget — memories that weren’t made on any trip, but ones that I’ll value just the same.