The Richness of College Life
Blogger: Kate Coursey
Two nights ago, I finished my last undergraduate final paper. I was sitting in the lab at midnight, going through all the data from my independent research this semester, compiling the figures for a lab report. It’s fitting that my last final would be a research paper—before I came to Oxy, I never would’ve imagined that I would study science.
I transferred to Oxy two years ago, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I have learned so much about myself since arriving at this school. In talking to other graduating seniors from the Class of 2015, I’ve noticed a collective sense of nostalgia and ambivalence about our futures.
It is sad, in some ways, to think of how easily the spaces we occupied will be filled by new students. Our dorms, our classes, the Cooler, the Green Bean… Soon a new generation of students will arrive to take over, to fill Occidental with their own memories. Oxy no longer belongs to us the way it once did.
After two, three, or four years, this campus is saturated with memories. Memories of the nights we stayed out too late, stumbling back to bed exhausted and happy at the crack of dawn; memories of doing cartwheels through the library hallways at 3:00 a.m. during finals week; memories of lying in the grass on sundrenched days, sipping boba and listening to the lazy gurgle of the fountain. There have been parties and princess manicure days, spontaneous adventures and hilarious conversations spurred by finals-induced delirium. There have been so many trips—to the beach, to Vegas, to the Bay, to national parks. We’ve gone abroad—me to India, my peers to other countries across the globe—but all our Oxy experiences ultimately center around Oxy’s campus.
For me, individual places stand out more sharply: the media suite, where I spent so many long nights laughing and working on the Weekly and eating ice cream; the perfect little taco stand that sets up every Thursday between Johnny’s and the York; the labyrinth that is Swan Hall; the fabulous lady’s restroom between the second and third floors of the library that has an inexplicable foyer. I’ve grown so much in these places. I’ve spent long hours working in the lab, and even longer hours sitting up talking with friends about anything and everything.
Saying goodbye isn’t easy, but that is the nature of this school. Oxy was never meant to be permanent. It has been shaped by all the thousands of students who came before us, and future students will continue to shape it. These spaces do not belong to us anymore—we pass them on to a new class of bright 18-year-olds, who will have the chance to grow, learn, live, and love in the places we vacate.
But we take the best parts of Oxy with us. We take the things we learned, the skills acquired. I take with me a love of science that I never would’ve discovered were it not for this school. I take with me a portfolio of new short stories, composed under the guidance of a professor and mentor.
And we take with us the connections made and the people loved. As I sit thinking back on my time at Oxy, I try to count the number of people who’ve impacted and changed me for the better: Ari, Chloe, Sarah, Marin, Sam, Jeremy, Juliet, Noel, Watkins, Jodie, Jen, Shugs, Emma, Butzow, Sav, Miranda, Steph, Ang, and the list goes on. I think of the other student researchers in my lab, who’ve become like family. I think of my amazing professors and all they’ve done for me—their brilliance, their compassion, and above all their devotion to their students, devotion that leads them to stay long past office hours just talking about life with a nervous graduating senior.
There are no words for how Oxy has changed my life, and in some ways I am devastated to leave. Two years went by far too quickly. But our turn is done, and the Class of 2015 is prepared—we will go on to new and amazing things, traveling the globe and working jobs and going to graduate school. Our lives will only expand from here. Oxy is just the beginning, and the friends we made in college will carry us on to new adventures.
If the richness of life in college can be measured by a sense of community and the number of people loved, I would say I’ve been pretty wealthy. Class of 2015, it’s been an honor.