Victoria Tan/MiC.

Author’s note: I started writing for the Daily the winter of my sophomore year because I love to write — plain and simple. My main intention was never for my friends or family to read my work but instead to give myself a creative outlet and space where I could grow as a writer and collaborate with other writers. I’ve always been extremely self-conscious about sharing my work because I tend to write about deeply personal topics such as self-assessing my mental health and, more broadly, navigating the stresses of university life. My writing is a place for me to reflect on my life and decipher my most powerful, and sometimes ugly, emotions. For that reason, having people read my writing makes me want to hide away in a corner because it feels like I’m exposing the most vulnerable side of myself for everyone to judge and prod. That being said, this is one piece that I want people to read because I have some things to say that need to be heard. Thank you to Michigan in Color for giving me this space to work out these jumbled thoughts.

After months of dropping hints about this sentimental piece I have been working on, here it is: the article that sums up (or at the very least, attempts to put into words) what my senior year has meant to me. I don’t say these words lightly; this year has undoubtedly been the best year of my life, and it’s one hundred percent because of the friends I’ve made. This piece is dedicated to those friends: the ones who accept me despite my annoying quirks, like my inability to show up to plans on time, the ones who check in on me when they know I am struggling with a highly irregular sleep schedule and the ones who make me want to cry tears of nostalgia when I look through my camera roll. When I entered the Big House at commencement, I wished this period of my life didn’t feel like a chapter coming to an end because I am simply not ready to graduate if it means leaving my friends, too. 

After transferring schools at the beginning of my sophomore year, an entire year of online classes amid the pandemic and realizing that I was on track to graduate a year early, I feel like my time at the University has been cut short. I remember confiding in a close friend about how nervous I was to attend in-person classes at the start of this year because, although I had senior standing, I had never stepped foot into a University building, let alone felt like I belonged to any community on campus. Though I joined student organizations and clubs, it’s hard to feel close enough to make friends on Zoom when you don’t even know basic facts about them, like their height. I didn’t have a solid friend group and had spent the majority of my sophomore year in the sole company of homework and Netflix in my room. I wasn’t particularly close to my roommates either. And on my birthday, I had dinner with my parents and a friend, then went to sleep at 9 p.m. 

The majority of the year, I felt like I was simply existing inconsequentially. Did I even really go to this school? Part of me was indifferent to the start of winter term classes because I was unconvinced that this semester would be any different than the last. I had dejectedly accepted the fact that the college experience depicted in movies and television, surrounded by new friends having wild nights out, wasn’t realistic. I never imagined that everything I wanted and hoped for could all happen in just a couple of months. If I had one piece of advice that I could give to my former self, it would be to not worry about still being in that “transition phase.” (Special thank you to my high school friends for being there for me as I stumbled through this transition period. I don’t appreciate you exposing all the cringey things I did when I was 16, but I am so grateful that you have stuck by my side at two in the morning when I was stress crying. It has been an honor to grow up and blossom alongside you guys. You haven’t gotten rid of me after all these years, and you’re not getting rid of me so easily just yet!)

Writing this piece is a way for me to capture all the details of this portion of my life that I am desperately clinging on to. I want to be able to reread this piece in 20 years and remember these crazy days. Core memories include, but are certainly not limited to: walking through the streets of Ann Arbor in below freezing temperatures in a crop top, eating microwave mac and cheese with a plastic knife and crying at the Law Quad with a bubble tea (because if you’re going to be sad, you might as well be sad while surrounded by pretty buildings). I laugh to myself thinking about how my university years are a distinct time period in which too many of my story retellings start with “It was 2 a.m.” or “We were at Rick’s.”

The smiles and quirky inside joke captions of my Instagram posts reflect some of those wild times, but my favorite part isn’t the pictures themselves — it’s the memories and feelings that weren’t captured in that single shot. And so, as best as I can convey, here are some of my most cherished memories from this school year, and the people I want to thank for helping me create them.

Chapter I

To: my roommates 

Augusts in Michigan are humid and sticky, and move-in week was no different. One of my roommates showed up with a gigantic U-Haul, and I turned to my other roommate and said, “Dude, there’s no way that she’ll be able to fit all of that in her room.” I was wrong. With fat drops of sweat beading on my back and rolling down the nape of my neck, we carried her mattress, bed frame and boxes up the narrow stairs, letting out cries for help followed by cackles that communicated, “I absolutely do not have the arm strength for this. Please help. Like now. My arms are giving out.” 

Thank you to my roommates for putting up with my antics — for when I’m up at 4 a.m. and don’t realize how loud my footsteps are as I clomp up the stairs, for when I take up the entire kitchen when I’m in a stress-fueled baking frenzy and for when I run out the door without saying hello or goodbye because I’m perpetually running late for something. I’m really sorry for that one time when I accidentally slammed the freezer door on one of your heads, and in a panic, said, “OhmygoshIamsosorryhere,” slapping a bag of frozen peas on your head and no doubt worsening the newly-forming tender bump. 

I hope both of you know how thankful I am to have found you two unproblematic queens. I would consider you not only the best roommates I have ever had but also good friends that I can confide in. The macaroons we made together might not be the cutest, but we sure are. I cannot tell you how touched I felt when I woke up on my birthday to find my door elaborately decorated or when you helped me open my first bottle of wine. We did it — we made it through the year without killing each other! 

Chapter II

To: the Michigan Malaysian Students Association (MiMSA)

Through one of my roommates, I met the small community of Malaysian students at this school. The first time I was introduced to everyone at a casual get-together, I immediately felt out of place. I stood awkwardly and waved hello in the doorway as everyone embraced each other, excitedly chattering about their summers. Despite my parents hailing from Malaysia and Singapore, my discomfort exemplified the trope of the Asian American person who never feels like they quite fit in with white Americans nor Asian immigrants. Questions like “Should I speak in my default American accent or switch to the Malaysian accent I use with my parents?” and “What do I say if someone asks me where I’m from?” swirled around my head the entire time, making it hard to focus on properly introducing myself. 

I was extremely insecure because you all knew each other previously in Malaysia, and I was the outsider “banana” (a slang term to describe an individual who appears to be Asian by physical appearance but has a Westernized mindset or values). But you turned out to be the most welcoming group of people I have ever met, and I quickly melted in like a slab of butter on a warm piece of kaya toast (a popular breakfast food in Southeast Asia). It was my first time having friends that didn’t need me to explain why nasi lemak is the ultimate comfort food or why my accent abruptly changes when I speak with my parents on the phone, and that was a wonderfully freeing feeling. Thank you all for accepting me into this community where I can express my cultural identity in a way that I have never been able to before and for giving me so many restaurant recommendations for the next time I visit Malaysia that my schedule will be packed before I even buy my plane ticket.  

Chapter III

To: the guitarist, the photographer, the cat-lover and the singer (collectively known as Kugiran Bebola Biru)

To the Malaysian boys who live in the apartment on Church Street, I seriously don’t even know where to begin with how much you guys mean to me. I’ve never received flowers from any boyfriend before, but you guys bought me two bouquets for my birthday, and that made me even happier than receiving a Valentine’s Day bouquet ever would. 

I remember that one evening that we went to Olive Garden together out of my insistence a week prior that unlimited soup and breadsticks and eating two full days worth of calories in one sitting was an essential American experience. I was actually having a terrible day, wanting to crawl up in bed and wallow rather than socialize. Still, I dragged myself out of bed, and we made it to the restaurant. When it was time to order, the waitress asked one of you what soup you would like. Realizing you didn’t know how to pronounce “gnocchi,” you looked at me in panic as if I spoke Italian. You tentatively let out, “I’ll have the gaw-naw-chee…?” I burst out laughing after the waitress left, immediately forgetting about whatever was weighing my mood down.

Everyone always has a lot of advice to give about how to get over a breakup with a significant other, but there’s a lot less said about how to prepare for losing a friend group. Video calls and social media might lessen the distance somewhat, I suppose, but at the end of the day, the 9,000 miles and 12-13 hour time difference will never be the same as the five-minute walk through the Diag to your apartment. I will always remember that black leather couch with the cushions that are so easy to fall asleep on. Only after about fifteen minutes of sinking into them do you realize that they have slid all the way forward, and you’re practically half off the couch. I will remember the black bathroom mat that is always soaking wet for some reason, making my socks uncomfortably damp when I inevitably step on it (Is this a common experience in every all-male apartment bathroom or is it just me?). I will remember how you all lit up when telling everyone about the bidet you installed a few months into the school year, and how we all took turns using it for the first time. I have been meaning to ask what will happen to it when you all move out. I will remember the prized gigantic TV that takes up half the living room. (Why are boys so obsessed with big TVs anyways?)

To find a group of friends that you are not afraid to be vulnerable with is a blessing that cannot be understated. Thank you for always making me feel safe and protected. We are all a little broken inside, but you have reminded me time and time again to embrace my flaws, and that I don’t have to pretend to be so strong all the time. There is no group of people with whom I would rather spend twelve hours spilling my darkest secrets and insecurities with until the sunrise. It’s crazy to think that “We’re Not Really Strangers,” even though we’ve only known each other for a short time. I truly feel as though I do not deserve you guys, and if there’s one thing that I want to leave you all with, it’s that you are all brave, kind and, dare I say, sexy as hell. I know you’re all older than me, but I’ll always be your mom.

Chapter IV

To: the girl bosses 

To my fellow Costco moms, *pauses to take an aesthetic video for the Instagram story* I cannot understate how much I love you guys. It was by fate that we met, and we slowly became a package deal. I’m convinced that we’re actually all the same person because our aesthetics and wavelengths match perfectly. In the past two months especially, we have dreamt up so many travel plans, and though we have neither the time nor the money to make them a reality right now, I’ll continue to manifest boss lady energy until we finally all work in offices on the top floor and have enough money to take weekend trips to London.

People will call us crazy for talking about how many kids we want and having a mental vision board for what we want our weddings to look like, but I don’t care. You queens deserve the best, and I’ll fight any man who isn’t worthy of your time and love (major red flag if he thinks Taylor Swift is too “basic” and “girly” to sing along to). I’ll never be able to listen to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” without thinking of you guys (the 10-minute version is superior). We watched the song’s accompanying short film the day it came out, and we were freezing because it was the middle of winter, and we were all wearing dresses that barely covered our knees after attending a formal event. I swore that I would move out of Michigan to get away from the weather as soon as I could. We half-jogged inside your apartment in our puffy coats, desperately willing the feeling in our fingertips to come back. We crammed ourselves on that tiny couch, huddled together to warm our toes under three or four blankets and watched the video four times, trying to take in every lyric and detail. Two weeks later, we half sang, half yelled the lyrics at our birthday party with such passion that one wouldn’t imagine that we were all happily single. Ironically, it was “fun turning 21.”

I love that we can eat an almost concerning amount of baked goods as much as I love how you guys make me feel. The way you guys hype me up makes me feel like I’m capable of doing anything — like my dreams aren’t so impossible. You guys make me feel beautiful even when it’s the end of the night, and my mascara has smudged, and my hair has frizzed up from the wildly-changing Michigan weather. You guys give me confidence I didn’t know I could have, and for that, I am forever grateful to get to be a part of your lives.

Chapter V

“I have a paper due on Monday and I’m really tired … but I’m down.” 

Not yet confined to a 9-to-5 job but instead finishing class at 3 p.m. and taking turns sipping from a fishbowl at Charley’s 4 p.m. happy hour (on a Thursday, nonetheless) exemplifies that sense of freedom and “work hard, play hard, sleep later” mentality that I’ll miss most about university. I have a designated pair of navy blue Converse to wear on our nights out, and at the end of the night, they’re inevitably sticky, covered in mud and sometimes questionably damp. Tripping over plastic pitchers and unsticking my shoes from the grimy floors, we forgot our exams, papers and whatever other stresses when we heard the opening riffs of “Stay” by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber — as well as “Party in the U.S.A,” “Dancing Queen,” “Love Story” or “good 4 u” — play. We would often form a circle or a kickline with our arms over each other’s shoulders, taking up so much of the dance floor that I’m convinced Rick’s will notice a dip in their profit margins when we’re gone. We would be hit by the frigid Michigan winter air (and sometimes snow) when we left the building at 1 a.m., turn to each other and say “Should we get Insomnia Cookies?” or “I kinda want Joe’s.” After especially wild nights, I’d swear that I was getting too old to go out anymore or that I was done with drinking, but I’d still respond “I’m down” when you guys texted me again next Friday afternoon. 

Chapter VI

“Open up my eager eyes, ’cause I’m Mr. Brightside.”  

And of course, I couldn’t write this piece without mentioning one certain song. “Mr. Brightside” will forever conjure memories of those early mornings in the frigid autumn air surrounded by tens of thousands of other Michigan football fans — a portion of whom, like myself, have a foggy knowledge (at best) of how American football works and are just there to socialize. I cringed at how much money we spent on tiny portions of Cottage Inn pizza in the stadium, but truthfully, warm food on those windy, sunless mornings was worth every penny. On Monday morning, I would have a scratchy throat and have to reassure my classmates that it wasn’t because of COVID-19 but from screaming “It started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this? It was only a kiss! IT WAS ONLY A KISS!” at the game. It will never fail to give me chills when the music would cut off, and the sea of spectators decked out in maize and blue would continue yelling the lyrics, united by this college anthem. I was at home with my family who absolutely does not care about football when we beat Ohio State (ew), but despite their lack of enthusiasm, the swell of pride I felt to be a Michigan Wolverine in that moment was unmatched.

Chapter VII

The end. It’s time. 

This piece could be quadrupled in length because I could only include so many more happy memories without an entire book flowing through my fingertips and onto my keyboard. I have been slowly developing this piece for several months now, hastily typing out scattered thoughts and phrases on the Notes app on my phone while waiting for the bus or scribbling ideas on restaurant napkins. Writing this piece has been a way for me to process all the emotions I’ve felt as graduation drew closer, but some part of me never wants the writing process to end. I have been reluctant to sit down and edit these concluding paragraphs because as soon as my fingers make the final keystroke, I know I will feel a sense of loss. Maybe if I leave the last sentence incomplete, then the university chapter of my life will not come to an end. Maybe if I close this document without hitting save, I won’t have to accept that, very soon, all my friends will move away to start full-time jobs and will no longer be a five-minute walk down the street. Maybe if I walk away from my computer right now, it will all stay the same just a little bit longer.

I knew this day was coming — we all did. Yet, now that we’ve finally arrived at the finish line, I can no longer convince myself that we have more time. I’ve tried to forget about the limited number of days we have left together, but we’ve finally reached the top of the escalator, all the sand has reached the bottom of the timer, the clock is about to strike midnight and the sun is about to set. That’s the thing about those happy moments: They don’t last forever, and we must be grateful to have had them at all. It’s five in the morning, my heart feels like it’s being squeezed in my chest and I’m shaking from the tears flowing out so quickly that I can barely type out these last few sentences. I cried many times writing this piece, and if you teared up while reading this too, hit me up, and we can ugly cry together. Thank you to the friends who give me a reason to be so sad to leave. I wouldn’t have made it through this year without you.

I love you kiddos so much. 

MiC Contributor Victoria Tan can be reached at