Senior Year: The year of “The Lasts”

I am a week away from going back up on “The Hill” for the year, but this year is a bit different than the last three, as this will be the last time I’m entering another school year at good old GAC. Everyone talks about senior year being the year of doing everything they love for the last time; their last sports season, last big concert, last St. Patty’s day weekend…but what about the lasts that we can’t wait to do for the last time? Just like at every school, once you step foot off campus, there are probably some things that you won’t do again because it is exclusive to college life, more specifically for me, Gustavus life. Here are some of “the lasts” that I will, and will not miss, after my senior year!


7 Lasts I WILL miss:

Friends a walk away

This one is a pretty obvious one, and definitely something taken for granted. I will miss the fact that my friends won’t be down the hall or a couple feet away at all times. Sometimes I forget that all students at Gustavus aren’t from MN, and don’t in fact live at Gustavus all the time because they have lives elsewhere just like I do. 90% of the friends I have made are from out of state, or a year above/below me, so I like to joke that I wish I was better at choosing friends that weren’t going to leave me once school is done. It will feel weird not being able to say “I can’t wait to do this next year”, because there is no next year! Being surrounded by peers 24/7 has become such a norm for me to the point where I don’t remember what it was like before that, so that will take some getting used to. I can’t even imagine what it will be like waking up next year without my roommates, my Little not working out with me in Lund at 6 AM, not waving every five seconds to friends I see around campus, the lack of Sunday night sorority meetings, or my friends being states away (shoutout to my Big, Perry, in West Virginia, Gustavus ain’t the same without you and the year hasn’t even started yet).

Class commute

I find it funny how during the year, we complain so much about walking outside to class on a D3 campus where it is .25 of a mile from one side of campus to the other. While it does seem terrible on those gusty days that we jokingly say gives us the “Gustavus Gusties” nickname (although I am starting to think it isn’t a joke), my perspective has changed since I’ve dabbled in adulthood this summer. Compared to my hour drive to my internship this summer due to 494 traffic that I am pretty sure I could have walked home faster than sitting bumper to bumper, it makes that one minute walk from campus center to the psychology building seem like luxury. We have it so easy at Gustavus; not having to drive to campus everyday, not having to spend money on gas, not having to walk miles, getting to walk campus on a beautiful day, passing by friends, and not wasting an hour of precious time in traffic listening to overplayed songs on the radio. I don’t know where my future workplace will be, but I don’t think the commute will beat what I have on The Hill.

Freebies

I don’t think there has been one day at Gustavus that I haven’t gotten something or been to something free (or “free” shall I say). Gustavus is great at hosting events for students during the week and on weekends whether that be Hunter Hayes in concert, midnight bingo, movies, Midnight Express buffets for finals, sorority events, great speakers, dances, panels, talent shows, drag shows, sporting events, etc. Furthermore, at these events there is always free frost your own cookies, Dunkin Donuts, Dominos, Chipotle, ..you get it, college kids love free food. There was even a time where there were free pot brownies sitting in the middle of campus center for anyone to take (brownies in a flower pot, let’s make that clear). It is such a common thing at Gustavus to just show up and have everything planned for you. I know it will be an adjustment for me having to find my own ways to entertain myself wherever I am living, but at the same time, pay for it! Yeah, I could go to the store and buy a sugar cookie and some frosting, but I am 100% sure it won’t be as good as free tastes.

St. Peter

When it comes to saying I will miss the tiny town of St. Peter, I am such a hypocrite. I can’t even count how many times I have been itching to get back to Eagan where the nearest Target, Chipotle, and Chick Fil A are all within five minutes of me. But at the same time, there are just some things in St. Peter that you can’t get, or see, anywhere else. 3rd Street Tavern is one of my favorite places to go with friends and family, which is why we already made a reservation a for graduation (early is on time am I right?). Thinking about the fact that I can’t easily go after school is done because it is an hour away actually makes me sad. There is also no other place like Patty’s, where trivia nights and professors grading at the bar are the norm. Gusties all know that. St. Peter is home to many other things that I can’t see anywhere else such as the curb lady, the house with green carpet as grass, Nicollet Cafe, all the shops in town, the jeep parked on the street with the weird face tire cover, and all the townies that we have come to recognize over the years. Something about St. Peter is special, and I definitely will miss turning onto College Ave (but not off, that intersection is impossible) for the last time as a student.

College schedule

Transitioning from a high school schedule to a college schedule was an absolute breeze, and felt too good to be true. Now that I’ve thought about it, the high school schedule and “adulting” work schedule are quite similar. The college schedule truly was too good to be true. The hardest part of my internship this summer was squeezing in a 5 AM workout beforehand, sitting in traffic, working from 8:30 to 5:00, sitting in an hour of traffic on the way home, having to remember to feed myself when I just want to take a nap, and then going to bed and doing it all over again the next day. To those who are out of school and are reading this thinking how spoiled I sound, I am! This entire school year I am taking two classes, and with years under my belt of having several hours of time in between classes to do whatever, it is a hard adjustment to switch back to high school life. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully capable of adjusting to a schedule outside of college, but I definitely will miss the flexibility, and having more than 30 minutes to eat my pb and j brought from home just like I used to in high school. History repeats itself!

Gustavus Life

I will miss Gustavus for the reason that I chose the school in the first place; the homey feel on campus, sunrises, sunsets, having all doors be held for me at all times, flowers lining the hill during the spring, the arb, and the beautiful campus that made me realize what love at first sight feels like. The first day I saw Gustavus was a gross rainy day in 7th grade, but I instantly fell in love with it. There is nothing like a nice sunny day at Gustavus while enjoying sitting out in the courtyard patio with coffee, and good company. Even on the most stressful days, the environment there always finds a way to calm my mind and just enjoy where I am at in the moment. Gustavus is like a little bubble, a little utopia up on the hill where nothing really goes wrong (or at least it seems like it because I never know what is going on in the world until I come off the hill). I’ll miss being in the bubble, as life off the hill doesn’t typically involve hammocks every ten feet, chalk drawings on the sidewalks, and guys out playing spikeball or sand volleyball every night. I don’t really remember what life off the hill was like, but what I do know is that there is a reason that I still get chills every time I drive onto campus from a weekend at home and get that feeling I felt when I stepped onto campus in 7th grade.

Staff of Gustavus

Leaving Gustavus also means leaving our beloved Becky Bergman, and all the faculty and staff that we have come to know so well. It will be so weird not walking into the caf and hearing Vicki yell across the room that the chicken is “Lauren proof” for the day, as well as all the caf staff that brighten my day by complimenting my healthy food choices, fascination with my reusable glass containers, and telling me I look great after a sweaty workout. As much as I despise how much they charge me for my carrots and chicken (@Deb), Gustavus wouldn’t be the same without them and the many times they ask if I’m hiding anything else under my lettuce. I will miss my daily morning chats with Brenda Haugen while I get my usual short cold brew as she has come to know. I will miss my psychology professors that fuel my love for psychology and make me psychoanalyze anything that breathes. I will miss Kathi Tunheim’s energy as she can brighten anyone’s day just by walking in the room, usually late 🙂 She is the best mentor, boss, and professor I have ever known. I will miss watching Mark Krueger, Jeff Owen, and his basketball crew tearing up the court every Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon. And yes, I will miss the custodian that I accidentally flashed sophomore year (maybe he will miss me too). They say you make so many meaningful connections and friends at college; but they never set an age limit on that statement. The Gustavus staff are what have made me love it there so much, Charlie Pott’s tweets being a small sliver of that, and I have made some real meaningful friendships that I hope to keep. To all those reading this who have no clue who these people are, I wish you could meet them.

7 Lasts I will NOT miss:

Freeze and fall phenomenon

With the whole campus being up on a hill, you’d think that there would be no problem with pooling water, and icy sidewalks. Think again. Only Gustavus students known how treacherous it is trying to walk from Complex and Uhler to the campus center. If you can make it that whole stretch without slipping, or wiping out, consider that your biggest accomplishment of the day- despite just acing a giant exam. This past year was absolutely ridiculous with the bipolar weather not making up its mind if it wanted to get warm. It was a constant cycle of melting, freezing, and falling. I remember one day this past year that I had a terribly tough exam, and just wanted to go back to my room and relax. I got to the stretch of sidewalk of pure ice, took one step, absolutely ate it, and the waterworks flowed just like the water did when that ice I slipped on melted a day later. For the record, it was a Terrible Tuesday. If you ever drive up to campus during the winter and see students all walking like penguins, that is why.

Dorm survival

I don’t think there is anything I am more ready to get away from than the dorms. For those who don’t know, Gustavus students are required to live on campus all four years. Each place I lived served their purpose, but some days, saying that is questionable. I understand that dorms aren’t meant to be luxury, but after three years in them, I have definitely learned what I need in a future home. I’ve had some honorable mentions over the years. In complex, the washers and dryers never failed to fail when I have needed them the most. The heat went out in my freshman dorm room, yet I didn’t know it until winter was over. No AC on 90 degree days led to sweating my makeup off at the same rate I was putting it on. Clogged drains in the bathroom and kitchen my junior year, leaving me to take a bath and a shower at the same time. A bonehead spraying the fire extinguisher all over the hall to make it look like the first snow of the year as I stepped out of my room. Let’s not forget the fact that I lived in an office (a nice office, but you can only live in a cube for so long). Tiptoeing around bodily fluids because someone JUST missed the porcelain throne. The fire alarm being pulled four times in one night. Lastly, the faulty shower rod..you know the story by this point. I can’t wait to live in a place of my own where I will not be flashing custodians, freezing to death at night, living in a geometry term, evacuating on the daily, avoiding upchuck, or having to choose if I want to wash the dishes or brush my teeth because the drains are too clogged to do both.

Gustavus Wi-Fi

Gustavus wi-fi cannot be depended on at all. Every time it goes out, it of course is at a time where I NEED to get on the internet, literally no other time. The wi-fi connection is as weak as diluted iced coffee, me trying to bench anything more than ten lb plates, one ply toilet paper, the feeling you get after climbing to the 3rd floor of any academic building, the taste of La Croix, my math skills, and my willpower when it comes to a fresh bag of kettle corn. WEAK.

Papers, tests,GPA, and letter grades

I understand that in the working world, this doesn’t totally go away, but instead is more paralleled to performance reviews, projects, and presentations. What I will not miss about this, is having to become a hermit in the library trying to cram for finals, endless flashcards, APA citations, peer reviewing, the anticipation of waiting for a test grade, seeing the result of that test grade (econ and I had a love hate relationship), and researching “scholarly sources.” Heck, I can’t wait to not hear the words scholarly source for a long time. I admit, I will kind of miss “biking my way to an A” as those of you who see that tradition on my snap story every time I prepare for a test (stationary bike and flashcards the night before a test- it has never failed me!) .Something I look forward to regarding life after college, is that I won’t be told how successful I am by a GPA or a letter grade. It is amazing how much I have let a number on a transcript, or letters, dictate my mood! I actually look forward to being evaluated in the workforce because I can focus on bettering myself for my job, the team I’m on, and myself, rather than the main motive being to get a GPA higher in order to look more impressive to help me reach the next step in life. I’m excited to see myself grow and be evaluated based on experience, not numbers on paper.

Freezing my booty off

All those D1 schoolers out there, don’t start scoffing at me yet for having to walk .25 miles in the cold. Unlike state schools, Gustavus prides themselves in NEVER canceling class no matter how unbearably freezing it gets, or the fact that the snow is as tall as I am (yeah, I’m short, but 5 ft is still a lot of snow). It is not uncommon to see students snowshoeing to class, wearing multiple pairs of pants, or bundling up to the point where we are no longer recognizable. Yes, we do have tunnels. No, we are not allowed to use them. There have been some days where the weather conditions are so ridiculous that there is nothing else to do but laugh, and bond over the fact that we are still chugging along while Mankato, and St. Peter schools already canceled for the day. Walking across campus in those conditions can be compared to making a trek across the Arctic while dramatic violin music plays, or at least that’s what I picture in my head as I try to make it to class. One morning, I woke up to a campus text saying that classes were starting two hours later due to two feet of snow the night before, and that brought happy tears to my eyes because it is just that rare to have any sort of schedule change. If you are a future Gustavus student, I highly recommend investing in some good snow boots, heavy coat, maybe some cross country skis, snowmobile, or snowshoes, flares in case you get stuck in a snow pile walking from Arbor View and need rescuing, hand warmers, and anything else you would need to survive multiple days outdoors in the middle of winter.

Room draw and registration

Registration and room draw at Gustavus is basically the same thing as Black Friday. It involves nervously awaiting students, game plans, backup plans, lots of screaming, races to get a room or class, lashing out at one another, crying, cheering, and a big sigh of relief once it is all over. There really is nothing better I can compare it to, especially as underclassmen. It is a very normal thing to see students with their laptops out in the middle of important meetings or speakers because that’s when their registration time is, and it is just that crucial to not miss your window. Not many people say that they are glad they have medical accommodations and require a different living situation, but my movement disorder has blessed me with the ability to not go through room draw any years at Gustavus because I need my own room. That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but that is just how stressful room draw is and the whole lottery process. Life after college means no more registering for classes, which means my computer will not have to experience me screaming at it from barely getting into Yoga at 12:30. Registration and room draw show people’s true colors.

Being away from my family

The last thing I without a doubt will not miss at all, is being an hour away from my family. While it is only a whopping 60 minutes away, it definitely could be a lot worse, sometimes it feels like they are an eternity away in the times I need them. I find it ironic how being away from my family-literally, has brought me closer to them-figuratively. They know me the best, and there is no shame in needing your family no matter how old you get. My mom will send me text updates about how they are meeting up with my brother for dinner in cities, and I can’t help but feel pangs of jealousy like I used to growing up when Christopher got to do something but I didn’t. It also is painful to receive snapchats of my dog at home, when all I want to do is reach into the phone and grab her. My family is everything to me, and it is hard wanting to be with my Gustavus family, and my real family, at the same time. Leaving The Hill means I will get to do all those things with my family that I love doing so much while at home such as dinners out, lake walks, weekend movies, hockey games, late night grocery runs, and just being able to drop in when I want. I can’t wait for them to be a short drive away rather than a phone call away at best.

I’m not one to get very emotional about “partings” but due to the fact that I got a little teary writing about driving off the hill for the LAST TIME is not a good sign for my stoic reputation. In all honesty, I will miss everything about Gustavus, even the bad things, because they are “just Gustavus things.” Sure, maybe my dryer in the future will fail on me, but the fact that it isn’t at Gustavus makes it 10 times worse. Slipping on ice won’t be as forgiving, I won’t have yoga at 12:30 scheduled into my calendar, freezing my butt off won’t include any Gustie bonding, and I will miss my Gustavus family just as much as I miss my own when I am away. Sitting here at Starbucks, a week before my senior year writing this, feels so weird because I have no clue what this year holds…and I can’t wait to find out. Thinking about all the changes this year is hard to even comprehend at this moment, but it will become more real as the year goes on. This year entails graduating, getting a job, moving out (maybe), and saying more goodbyes to people and things than I ever have had to. This moment right now is the calm before the storm that I can’t wait to chase.

Happy last week of summer (or first week of classes for some). Don’t take any experience for granted!

~Lauren

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