The biggest thing that stresses me out about graduation isn't the job hunt or paying back those high interest student loans. It's the fact that all of UB's post-graduation merchandise is grammatically incorrect. I thank my time at The Spectrum for that.
It's true, though. I should not be wearing a T-shirt that says "UB Alumni" unless I have multiple personalities—and while I may have intense mood swings at times, I am far from a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-type character. For a school that prides itself on being the crown jewel of the SUNY system, you'd think they'd learn a simple point of grammar.
Where are the appropriate "UB Alumnus/UB Alumnae" T-shirts?
I fully admit that this is a petty gripe, but I choose to share it because I feel like it's symbolic of my time at UB. For the past four years, I have complained about this university practically every single day.
When I was a freshman, I hated my messy and narcissistic roommate. I hated dining hall food. I hated being closed out of classes. I hated the October Storm. I hated how windy it was when the Dalai Lama came because I couldn't hear a word he said. I cried a lot. I missed my dinky town of Halfmoon so much it scared me.
Sophomore year, I still hated dorm food, but I loved my roommate. I still hated getting closed out of classes, but I didn't miss home as much. I hated boys who messed around with my mind and my heart, boys who wouldn't commit and boys who were just looking for an easy lay.
Junior year, I hated all the work. I hated studying for the GRE. I hated that as soon as I let myself fall in love, everything came crashing down on me in one puff of Fahrenheit. I hated my anxiety disorder and I hated that those co-workers who I thought were my friends abandoned me because of it. I missed my Mom. I hated constantly getting speeding tickets when I drove home, five hours across New York State while crying hysterically and hyperventilating because that boy, who I let myself trust, betrayed me in the biggest and most hurtful way.
Now, as a senior, I hate the stress of preparing for graduate school. I hate trying to find an apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the world and I hate the fact that I'm leaving this all behind, because now I realize that all the things I've hated for the past four years are just small things. Technical things. It's the difference between alumni and alumnus. Who cares?
I've had no qualms about my education. I've had no issues with advisers. Ninety-nine percent of my professors have been especially fantastic (I'm looking at you Barbara Bono, Jim Holstun and Bruce Andriatch). That one percent who I disliked? It doesn't even matter because, well, they didn't add anything valuable to my life. I learned nothing from them.
I guess what I'm getting at in my normally circumspect way of looking at life is that all the things I hated about college were only byproducts. All my complaints weren't about school — they were about life.
College is about growing up, and I think I have. If I had gone through any of the heartbreak, stress and panic in high school that I did while at UB, I don't know if I would have come out on the other side a sane(ish), strong(ish) individual.
Of course, I have my mother, father, sister, grandmother and godmother to thank for this. Without their ability to answer my 3 a.m. phone calls, help me through full-blown panic attacks and appease my nerdy excitement over AP Style and Shakespeare, I don't know what I'd do. You've kept me grounded, you've made me laugh and you've taught me to never use the "good paper plates" unless we have company.
And then there are my friends — new and old — Shen grads and Spectrum-ites (and even a few English/history majors and classic Generation-ers). You've all made my senior year (and undergrad) especially memorable. From (legal) bar hopping to endless production days to Shakespeare jokes, we did it with good humor and laughter, even if we wanted to kill each other at times.
Am I going to miss Buffalo? Not at all. Am I going to miss the people I've met? You bet.
I'm not sad about leaving UB or Buffalo behind, I just don't want to leave the people who I've come to be so comfortable with. It wasn't until a few months ago that I finally felt comfortable being myself and I'm not sure I'm ready to have that security blanket ripped from me just yet.
But I don't have a choice. I'm off to Columbia University in August, where I can hopefully find the same thing all over again. (Yay! More journalism nerds!)
Congratulations to my fellow seniors. I hope your college experience was as painfully "normal" yet as fulfilling as mine (and I hope you complained a bit less; I am rather ridiculous).
Good luck in all that you do and remember: YOU are an alumnus. WE are alumni.