As college students, we live in a sort of pseudo-real world. We know we’re grown-ups, but for many of us, the parents still pay the rent. We complain about the workload of our classes, but still take some of them pass/fail. We’re in a constant state of transition, floating between being kids and being adults, and not in the way Britney Spears was during her odd soul-searching phase. For the most part, we’re still isolated from the ways and wiles of a fast-paced modern world. We don’t have to worry about things like mattress shopping and mortgage payments yet. It’s pretty fabulous, if I do say so myself.
What adds extra sweetness to my undergraduate experience is that I’m fully aware of its transient state. This isn’t a permanent position. I know that after college and grad school, I’m on my own. My parents won’t be bankrolling my Ramen or my coin-op laundry anymore. I realize that it’s a big, dog-eat-dog world out there, and even though I try to deny it, there’s evidence all around me that not everyone makes it, even though we all think we will.
So now it’s fall. Halloween’s over, along with its mini-candy and mini-skirts, leaving only foggy memories for most of us. Midterms are on the downswing. The weather’s getting colder – and annoyingly warmer, and then colder again. Football is at its peak. We all know what that means, right? Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away! It’s awesome, really – Thursday and Friday with no class, and food … lots of food. Turkey, and pumpkin pie, or for the more ethnic of us, off-beat cultural food like daal or pho hidden behind a large roasted fowl, a token tribute to a pilgrim culture we really know nothing about. For me, Thanksgiving’s usually just an excuse to eat as much as I possibly can, hang out with family while I enjoy my two days off from school and fall asleep in a contented haze of what I like to call a food coma. And also shopping. Can’t forget that.
But really, what does Thanksgiving mean? I remember drawing turkeys in kindergarten from the outline of my hand, learning about the Mayflower and Squanto teaching the Pilgrims to bury fish when they planted corn. I remember the first year my family had a turkey. It was a big deal. I remember writing poems about what I was thankful for and saying prayers.
Really, though, in my everyday life, I never take the time to stop and think about all the great things. Who does, on this busy college campus? We’re too busy hopping from class to class, or trying to get notes from the lectures we missed because we were hungover. We’re too busy running for e-board on our favorite student groups, making enough money to cover this semester’s expenses and studying for our LSATs, MCATs or GREs. We’re just too busy.
The Diag is gorgeous now, all yellow and orange and crinkly with leaves. The ivy on the face of the Union is flaming to its most dazzling reds and golds. It is beautiful, even if the nights are freezing cold, and I love being at school, no matter how much I complain about exams and papers and lack of sleep. I would rather be here than almost anywhere else, and it’s zooming by unbelievable quickly.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to give thanks. I mean, I don’t stop to do it nearly enough. But I’m thankful for my friends and family, for my dogs and for the experiences that come along with being in college. I’m thankful for my education, even if I do forget everything as soon as I learn it. I’m thankful for the single blessed fact that I’m here, at the University, and will be here for another year. Because it’s going to end soon.
– Nguyen is still searching for a book that effectively combines her love of ducks with the youthful magic of “Harry Potter.” E-mail her suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org