Learning to appreciate going home, saying goodbye

Senior year has given me many practical life lessons. I’ve learned how to write a resume; how to sit for an interview; and how to handle graduate school applications, studying and looking for summer jobs — all while trying to maintain a social life. But one of the main things I’ve learned is how to be appreciative.

In a sense, appreciation is a skill, just like being able to write or interview. It doesn’t come easy at first, but the ultimatums of senior year have taught me how to be appreciative of the moments we have. This semester, I’ve gone home more than usual because of graduate school interviews. The schools are not far from my house, so it’s easier to spend the night there than it is to make a long round-trip from Williamsburg. In the past, I didn’t like going home often because I enjoyed being at school with my friends, but I’m realizing now how I’ll have fewer opportunities to go home as I move forward in my education and career. I’ve started to value home-cooked meals and watching movies with my family more than I have before. I’m learning to appreciate what’s always been familiar and comforting.

Also, I’m more appreciative of the time I have left at the College of William and Mary — both in and out of the classroom. I’m appreciating the moments spent with friends and our spontaneous adventures at school. (Full disclosure: When my roommate and I are laughing late at night about something ridiculous, I’ve started to tear up because I know that, even though we will remain close friends, the late-night laughs will be few and far between.)

Speaking of spontaneous adventures, one of my friends and I went on a drive one Friday night. We had no destination in mind; we went because we knew that car rides are the best way to spark a good conversation. In the middle of our long tête-à-tête, my friend made a good point. He said that we need to acknowledge when we’re experiencing a last moment. So many times, even though everyone knows a friend is graduating or moving away, we don’t want to recognize it because we don’t want to face the painful fact that our experiences will no longer be shared. But he suggested that we need to acknowledge goodbyes and make them good ones, not treat a final goodbye like a “see you tomorrow” when we know we won’t.

I agree with my friend, and the funny thing was that — since I’ll be graduating in May — we knew that our late night drive would probably be one of our last. This realization made me very appreciative of our conversation and our friendship. Endings are never fun, but as my time  in Williamsburg comes to a close, I’m realizing how much I’ve appreciated being a student here. I want to make all my remaining days as an undergraduate good ones because, let’s face it, we seniors don’t have many days left.


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