I can't begin to explain how amazing my experience at UW-Madison was these past four years; I can't even wrap my head around it myself. But I'm going to try.
I came from a small high school, with about 120 kids in my class, half of whom I knew since I was five years old. Everything was familiar. I thought I knew how life worked. But then I came to Madison and everything changed. You see, all of my life, I thought happiness was good grades, soccer game wins and mediocre weekends (and by mediocre I mean my weekends mostly consisted of me and my friends driving around town because we didn't know what to do.)
Madison taught me that happiness is breaking free of familiarity, challenging yourself and exploring the unknown. I have met countless people, listened to many many lectures, cracked one too many champagne bottles and made unforgettable memories with even more unforgettable friends. I never could've imagined that a place could give me so much. I found my passion for journalism, learned how to sit at the terrace and just breathe, experienced two Rose Bowls and two Final Fours, laughed so hard I cried...multiple times, saw the devolution of Mifflin, and discovered the beauty of diversity for changing perspectives on our lives.
I remember before coming to college I thought I would get at least a 3.85 GPA, get a job that I didn't really like after graduation and meet my future husband at College Library. Oh how wrong I was, but I've never been more happy to be wrong in my life. Fortunately, I found a career path that I absolutely love that I will pursue after I take a holiday in Europe for the summer, and I realized that grades and boys aren't all there is to life.
Every now and then (re: every other day) I catch myself looking at something on campus and smiling, because every day I get to live in a place where I constantly have to remind myself that it's not a dream. My four years of college have been unbelievable at the very least and although I'm sad to leave, I also know that I will find my place somewhere else, as long as I keep pushing myself and embrace change. And for that change of mindset, I am forever indebted to UW-Madison.