173. It only took 173 days. Well technically it was quicker; however, I only had 173 days in Athens during my freshman year at the University of Georgia. I left for Spring Break on March 5th, excited for what the rest of the semester would have in store. I remember my first day nearly as vividly as my last day – day 173.
On my first day on campus this past August, I met my hallmates and explored the campus. I planned out my classes and looked at the hundreds of organizations – wondering where I would find my home. I bought a few posters, which are currently hanging in my room, and trekked from Hill Hall to the Stegeman Coliseum for the first time – where my extremely outgoing RA lead the way. Hot as can be, I started to develop a love for my university and all of the people who I met along the way.
March 4th was similar yet completely different. It was raining – different from the drought that existed that previous August. I started my day how I normally do – heading to the dining hall and class before racing back to my dorm to get ready for the events I had in store for myself. Going from an interview – where I ripped my pants (how embarrassing) – back to my dorm to change. After I put on my khakis and super-G, my RA caught me in the dorm. Reminding me of my potential, how excited she is to reunite after the break and one of my favorite Sophia-ism's "Get rid of cake if you do not want it." Journeying to the Stegeman Coliseum one last time this semester, I was looking forward to the night ahead. It was not supposed to be the last time. I experienced a lot of unanticipated lasts that day. At the Steg I helped out with the Promotions Team, I was supposed to be at the softball game but that was canceled due to the rain. Racing from the game to dance where we were preparing for nationals in Daytona – only three weeks away. Then heading back to my dorm to shower, pack, and grab a much-needed dinner before departing the following morning.
In the airport terminal, I looked at my agenda – realizing that I would spend over 200 days in Athens during my freshman year. Sadly, I was wrong. My last day was busier than my first, yet I miss both of them just the same. It is crazy to see how much can change over 173 days, or even scarier – over these past two months.
Moving to online schooling, virtual meetings and zoom calls with my hallmates is not ideal. Despite not anticipating all of these goodbyes, they truly are just a see you later. Freshmen year can be difficult, awkward, and scary but is so much more. It is about those people who allow you to be yourself and convince you to wear a handmade glue stick costume to Snelling after only being on campus for a week. It is about those people who respond in a group chat to an invite to play volleyball on a Saturday night and become your friends. It is about those people who teach you how to swing dance on top of a parking deck every single Tuesday night. It is about those people who have made this university my home. My classmates and hallmates who have become my closest friends, shoulders to lean on, fellow comedians, and family in 173 days.
My first visit to campus I saw something that remains from day one to day one hundred and seventy-three. Athens, I love you. Athens, I miss you. Athens, I can't wait till we are reunited in August. Initially feeling powerless, this pandemic tests a person's faith, strength, and motivation. Regardless, three options arise – continue moving forward, take a step back, or come to a halt. I believe it is best to embrace the discomfort and uncertainty that I am feeling. Change has been constant in my life lately. Coming back to my hometown earlier than anticipated, I am constantly looking back as opposed to forward. The future is uncertain yet one thing is true – thank you to everybody and everything who made my 173 days unforgettable.
In honor of these 173 days: https://youtu.be/lA-CidgdhSM
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