Yeah, I probably need a break. For the last week and a half, I've been spending (literally) up to half the day in the library, studying for hours on end for finals. Studying for this long and hard is not something I have ever done before, and it quite honestly feels like a huge milestone. I survived my first college finals! I did alright in my classes this semester! I didn't totally fail out! That seems like a promising outcome of a first semester to me.
Now, I'm sitting on a bus, pulling onto route 94 toward Milwaukee and the General Mitchell Airport. I'll probably sit in the terminal for an uncomfortable amount of time, and will finally have absolutely no homework I need to work on. A weight lifted off my shoulders, I can sit and honestly reflect about what I learned this semester. It's hard to think of where to begin.
I am able to start with the most important thing: the friends I have made here. Having good friends in high school literally means nothing compared to having good friends in college. Yes, high school friends are just as important as the ones you make at university. The difference is that in college, you don't go a single day without seeing someone you absolutely adore. Even when I was extremely sick one week in October, laying on the floor of my dorm room, crying, my best friend brought me soup and watched Broad City with me. If I am being honest, I was not the most social person in high school. Sometimes, there would be weeks where I wouldn't really talk to anyone. That's a pretty isolating feeling to experience. At Madison, I see all the people I love, all the time, and it makes the hard parts so much easier. I am so forever grateful for that.
After being here a whole semester, I realized that there are so many people who are so different than me. I consider myself to be a well-traveled person, who has met many different types of personalities. Coming to college, however, I interact with a completely unfamiliar type of person almost daily. My perspective about people has never broadened so quickly. My reaction to other people's lives and experiences changes so drastically when one day you go from knowing the same 300 people since Kindergarten, to not even remembering the faces of the people you had met a week ago. Meeting different people also leads to being able to understand different personalities better — something that I consider the most valuable knowledge to learn in college. If you aren't at school to gain some perspective, then you're doing it wrong.
I remember how nervous I was on move-in day. I was so eager to make a first impression, and make sure I didn't mess up. I was calculating my every move from hour one. Turns out, overthinking didn't really do me any favors, because my life here has not really followed my original plan. In the end, I'm really glad it didn't, because I think my experiences have actually turned out for the better. Hindsight is 20/20, and planning your future never really works out anyways.
I am heading home now for five weeks. In my mind, that isn't a long time. In reality, I know it's going to feel like an eternity. I will see my people from home, and pick up the pieces to the life I once led. I'll fill in the gaps with all the things I learned at school so far. I'll pre-occupy myself with friends, work, and Netflix. I will finally be able to take a breather. However, it turns out I really hadn't craved home as much as I thought I would, because I am in Madison now. College is where I blossomed these past few months, and even if it was challenging sometimes, I wouldn't have traded a single minute of it. This is where my life is happening, and this is where I am defining what it means to be 'Lauren Feiges'. For once, I am happy with who I've become so far, and what college has pushed me to be. I'm so excited to see what happens next.