There’s a feeling I’ve been trying to come to terms with since the fifth grade, when I moved across the country from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to the Bay Area. Even as a 10-year-old, I felt an acute understanding that things were ending. It’s a hard feeling to pinpoint or even explain — the way it twists your stomach, tugs at your heart, opens your tear ducts and completely overcomes you.
I felt this way, most recently, in the little town of Helsingør, Denmark, where I studied abroad at the International People’s College. As we all languished in our goodbyes when the semester came to an end, there was no number of farewell dinners, goodbye parties or parting songs that could make me feel better. This experience was ending. These people would disperse and there was a good chance that we would never end up in the same room, or even country, together again. It would never be this way again.
But then a friend got married, and seven of us found our way to Ohio to celebrate. It was an incredible weekend filled with love and reminiscing. Of course, this was a setting very different than the last place where we had all been together. But we had so much fun on the dancefloor that it didn’t matter. At the wedding in Ohio we went from being study abroad friends to being friends who attend each other’s weddings. It was clear that the nature of our friendships had evolved, as did our lives. Even in a new place, the relationships between us remained strong. The wedding made it clear that even though our study abroad experience had ended, we could still keep the friendships alive with new experiences.
So as college begins to wind down and I look ahead to a completed thesis, one final and two graduations, it’s hard to stare down the uncertain future with as much conviction as I might like. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that it will never be this way again.
I won’t spend 10-hour days at Caffe Strada during finals week anymore. I won’t have finals anymore. I won’t have to worry about making deadlines on a night when we’re short on content. I won’t work for The Daily Californian anymore. The list of things that won’t happen anymore seems endless, but the one thing that I know will stay constant are the relationships I’ve built at UC Berkeley. Just like my study abroad credits, those are transferrable.
This feeling of an imminent ending is one I’ve been trying to come to terms with for a while. When I think about my impending graduation and the way my friends will spread out, leaving our Berkeley bubble and the comfort of being and living together, I feel the pit in my stomach tighten and multiply in size.
It won’t be this way again, and I guess that’s OK. We make memories here unconsciously, simply by living and being and enjoying our college experiences. Once we’ve left, we’ll be able to look back and reminisce on our undergraduate experiences. We’ll graduate knowing that we can’t come back to fully relive our glory days, because we actually lived those days. We have to look forward — we have to have new experiences so that we can make new memories to carry us through the rest of our lives. Our relationships will evolve and grow as we do, something that I’m going to try to celebrate rather than mourn.
All of the minutiae that make the collage of my college experience what it is will start to fade away soon. It’s hard to tell what to hold on to and what to let go of — I’m still unsure which memories I’ll need to keep with me to shield myself from the harshness of the world beyond Berkeley. I know I’ll always remember the meaningful conversations I’ve had here with the people who have shaped me into who I am. I will always cherish those times as I look forward to the new.
We’ll always be Bears and we’ll always be able to hold on to the special times we’ve had here with people who have left such remarkable impressions upon us. We’ll relive our glory days, but it won’t be the same. And that’s just fine.
Peace, love and Clog. Always.