Why the U of M Will Always Be Home

College goes by fast.

That’s not an even a little bit of an exaggeration; the years I’ve spent wandering around this huge campus, surrounded by 30,000+ undergraduate students, and taking classes in the Hogwarts-style academic buildings have passed in the blink of an eye.

Freshman year feels like it was just months ago. I remember every bit of moving in, meeting my floormates, and navigating the winding hallways that make up Pioneer Hall like it was yesterday. Despite it being one of the biggest transitions of my life, I loved every minute of freshman year.

And now, suddenly, I have only four weeks left at the U.

I can’t wrap my head around the fact that in just four weeks, I won’t take the bus to campus and walk through the mall every Monday through Friday. For the past three and a half years, every time I’ve stepped foot on campus, looked at Walter Library, and peered over at the Minneapolis skyline, I’ve felt a rush of happiness. For so many reasons, I know that choosing to attend the University of Minnesota was the best decision I’ve ever made. I just had no idea my time as an undergraduate would whiz by so quickly.

If college didn’t cost thousands of dollars, I think I’d stay around forever. I love being a student, soaking in knowledge I was never exposed to previously. I love sleeping in, grabbing coffee before class, and staying up late studying (OK, mostly goofing around) with my roommates. I love the college lifestyle, and I love experiencing it here.

I never expected a chaotic, bustling campus in the middle of Minneapolis to feel so welcoming. I never expected to have deep and meaningful friendships develop with the girls I met during the first week. I never expected I’d declare two majors, work multiple jobs, and graduate early.

But here I am.

I am proud of myself for challenging myself everyday that I’ve been a student here. I am proud of myself for diving into new opportunities head first, and learning along the way what I liked best, and what I disliked most. I am proud of myself for dropping classes that weren’t the right fit, for taking a full course load each semester, and for balancing work, finances, and a social life, even when I thought the stress was going to kill me.

I have grown so connected to this environment. I swear, I bleed maroon and gold. I love Goldy and the shoe tree and the Washington Avenue bridge. I love Coffman and TCF and Folwell Hall.

I’ll never stop being a Gopher.

More than 4 years ago when I first stepped foot on this campus, I knew I belonged. That feeling has never left. I have no idea how life after graduation will look or feel, but I’m not worried.

Wherever I end up, the U of M will always be home.