Dear Friends,

Our rooms have been emptied, our cars packed, and our time to depart for our next four-year journey has come. While we are supposed to feel excited, we cannot help but be overwhelmed by the vortex of emotions surrounding us: all the nervousness, anxiety, fear, and, of course, the inevitable homesickness. The comments made by our parents and relatives such as, "Your college years are the best years of your life!" fail to ease our pain of leaving everyone behind. No matter what, we are bound to be stressed about starting a new chapter, but maybe that's not an "incoming freshman" experience, and maybe it's just a "life" experience. And out of every life decision, saying goodbye will be the hardest thing I ever have to do.

Thank you for being in my life, no matter how long you were in it. As we all know, not every friendship is bound to last a lifetime. All our friendships have individually served as a support for what we needed at that time, during that year, in this moment. The friend group I assumed would last forever on the first day of freshman year was necessary because it allowed me to make the choices to meet the best friends that I graduated with four years later. Every friendship provided a lesson and should be remembered as a part of my story, no matter how amazing, horrendous, long, or short. From high school, our friends have scattered across multiple groups and cliques, which gave us the most realistic perspective of the different people we are bound to meet in life. Or maybe your friends all came from one singular group, which only strengthened your relationship with each other over the years. Maybe that is what truly makes it hard to leave them in these next few weeks. Because they have become more than your friends, but they are your family.

It has been hard trying to wrap my head around the reality that soon I will be in a new place, surrounded by hundreds of people I do not know. The anxiety of starting over simply bothers me, and it's not because I, in any way, hate social interactions, but because I have to start over. People no longer "know my face"; they have not seen me in the hallways after school. They have never been in a classroom environment with me. They don't know anything about my journey, about the places that have changed my life, about the incredible things I've seen, and about the people I've met. No, all they know is that they live in my residence hall, or they have seen me in the background of their History class. To which, I have to start all over with a simple, "Hi, my name is...", and eventually, the rest of my story will be known.

But, friends, these are the memories that I cherish forever, and if you were there with me, I will never forget. They are not only stories to be heard or things that have happened to me in the past, but they are who I am now. They embody what I truly love and embrace in this world, and I assure you I will carry them with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you for the conversations that have forever changed me. In my last two years of high school, I've encountered some of the most intelligent people with the most important questions. Our philosophical discussions started as the final bell ring, and sometimes even went on for over two hours, when our moms desperately calling us in a panic shouting, "Where are you?" but your only answer was, "But Mom, what even is truth?" These are the conversations that not every average high-school student partakes in, and what made me so fascinated by it all was the fact that I wasn't alone. So to my friends with a love for knowledge, cheers to you. You give me hope for the progress we can make in our own lifetime.

Thank you to the people staying home. I can only imagine how hard it must feel to see everyone away from home sometimes. The reverse homesickness that you feel in the gut of your stomach whispers, "I wish I had my own dorm" as your friends frantically choose a bed comforter in Bed, Bath & Beyond. But, you should allow yourself to explore your home-not just your home address- in an entirely different way, and like everyone else, with new people. Your experiences are slightly different, but the college experience itself depends solely on the individual, not the location. I assure you, Thanksgiving will be here sooner than we both expect. And when we hug for what seems like the longest time next November, I will feel like I never left. The friendships I have made away from home have not replaced you; those memories away at school have perfectly found a place right next to ours, and they will continue to be there.

Thank you to the people traveling farther away from home: Although you will be more distanced from everyone else on the Snap Map, our journey together will not end simply because you are a plane ride's distance away. Instead of "daily hangouts", our times together will transform into fun-filled weekends and road trips with events planned to the brim and stories that will last for days. And suddenly, we will realize together, the distance never mattered in the first place, and that it took a special friend to realize that what truly mattered were the efforts we put in to make it work. I promise you I will be booking more flights in the near future, and of course, you will surely receive a huge hug at Thanksgiving.

I know you will all do great things. And I wish you all the luck. This isn't "Goodbye", friends, it's a "See you later".