A Letter To Michigan State University A Semester Before I Graduate

A Letter To Michigan State University A Semester Before I Graduate

Once a Spartan, always a Spartan.
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Dear Michigan State University,

As I watch some of my closest friends who I have met throughout my time here at MSU graduate, I found myself reflecting of the past three years I have had the privilege to call your campus home and think about the future with my one semester left here in East Lansing. We have had our highs and lows (just like the football team) but I wouldn't trade any of those moments for the world.

I came here in the Spring of 2016 as a bright-eyed and naive freshman. I planned on doing college at MSU the same way my Mom had done during her time here. I was going to be in her sorority, 4.0 every class, party all the time, have a lot of friends, and be the best Spartan to ever walk along the Red Cedar.

Needless to say, those freshman ambitions soon vanished after a month here. While I found out pretty quickly my Mom and I would not have identical college stories when it came to our time at MSU, I never once questioned if I belonged here. I

was born a Spartan! This is my dream school and when I got the "You're A Spartan" packet, it was just confirming what I already knew in my heart. Just because my experience here went differently than planned, does not mean I am disappointed by any means. In fact, I am pleasantly surprised by the turn it took.

As a new senior looking back on my time here, it's hard to believe it's almost over. Three years I have been lugging my bags back and forth to East Lansing every fall.

While I won't miss dying of heat stroke in the dorms/my apartment during the first month of the fall semester, I will miss watching all the new freshman arrive with all the hope and excitement I did when I first got here. I will miss waking up early on Saturday mornings to party with friends before a football game.

I will miss my annual Spartan T-Shirt I get with my student football tickets. I will miss trips to the Dairy Store and trying the new flavors with my best friend. I will miss sitting in the student section at Spartan Stadium (especially during the Michigan game). I will miss sitting by the Red Cedar outside of Wells Hall or under Beaumont Tower taking it all in. I will miss the craziness that is Halloween on MSU's campus. I will miss walking around campus during the first snowfall of the year. I'll miss trying out the new shops that pop up on Grand River after a stressful day of classes.

Honestly, it will be hard to say goodbye to MSU in the fall but while it might not be as often as it currently is, I will always be back. MSU taught me a lot about myself so why wouldn't I return to the place that I found myself at? After all, you are one of my homes now.

I was never popular during my time here, but I met so many cool people. I rushed but decided Greek Life wasn't for me. I wanted friends so badly that I thought the only way to make friends was being in a community like Greek Life.

I discovered this was false, and met some of my best friends by actually interacting with people in class, going to parties, joining clubs, and meeting my friend's friends. Some of these people became friends who eventually became my family.

Others, while their time was brief in my life, taught me to have fun in the moment and always put yourself out there to meet new people. Thank you for introducing me to a variety of people who I would have never met if I did not come here.

It's been a great three and a half years here, and I will miss a lot of things when I leave here in December.

Some of the things I won't miss are: missing the CATA bus, how full the library gets during finals week, the expensive Uber rates, the Starbucks line at Wells Hall, all the high schoolers who eat at Brody Caf, trecking cross campus in 5 inches of snow, driving around campus, 8am classes, almost getting run over by the international students in their fancy cars, the liberal biasness in general around campus, the Wells Hall preacher, PACE parking tickets, pulling all-nighters to write a James Madison paper, and not being able to go into the football trophy room at Skadalaris Center.

While I won't miss these things, there are plenty of things I will miss.

I love you Michigan State University. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow and evolve as a person as well as giving me the honor to call myself a Spartan for life. You have been the only school I have ever attended that I actually woke up every day thankful to be able to attend.

Thank you for the friends, memories, opportunities, jobs, and challenges you have presented me with as a part of being a student here. I will not take my last semester here for granted. I can't wait to be a Michigan State alumna and I can't wait to show the world what a Spartan can do.

As always, GO GREEN and GO WHITE!

Love,

A Fellow Spartan

Cover Image Credit: Alexa Warford

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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