T-minus 10 days, five hours and 32 seconds. Destination: the real world. The countdown to graduation clock on the wall of Lindy’s Red Lion is staring at me, taunting me. “This is it,” the clock says. “No more lectures, no more summer vacations, no more college parties. Your time is up and we’re kicking you out.”
Moving on has seemed like a common theme in our lives up until now. We did our time in junior high, so we could supposedly move on to bigger and better things. But we started off at the bottom of the ladder all over again once we reached high school. And just as we’d climbed to the top, the four years were up and it was back to the bottom again, the only difference being a bigger ladder. And now our time in college has come to an end.
How did these last four years begin and what’s next? And what was stuffed in between? Let’s take it from the top. Or, should I say, bottom: Colonial Inauguration.
“I hated CI,” senior Holly Herdon said. “I hated the activities we had to attend. I hated my leader. I had to move into Mitchell and it was empty because it was the fifth CI. It was the most depressing thing on earth: moving into an empty building thinking, ‘This is college?'”
Senior Deborah Hurwitz had a similar experience.
“At CI, I didn’t feel like I fit in with anybody,” she said.
But not everyone’s CI experiences were negative. Senior Whitney Sweet described his orientation days as simply “awesome.”
But for several students, it was a lesson in confusion. Hundreds of soon-to-be freshmen, many of whom had never been away from home, were suddenly in a new city with no idea what to expect.
“I think the thing about freshman year is everyone’s like ‘Oh my God, there’s hundreds of thousands of people,'” senior Lee Todovich said. “You’re in the elevator introducing yourself to people. But all that shit calms down after a couple months.”
After the initial confusion wore off, undergraduates learned what to expect from GW – sharing small rooms in Thurston Hall with four roommates, long lines and red tape.
“It seems like you have to go to four or five different offices to do just about anything,” Todovich said. “I need to get this transferred to that, so you’re told to go here and then the 3rd floor of the Marvin Center and then the journalism department and then back to the Academic Center.”
Another important aspect of GW life was the friendships made while here.
“I have a lot of acquaintances and I have a group of real friends,” senior Sarah Kopelovich said. “I’ve learned to weed out those who I’m not that close with.”
“I had these friends that were not really my friends at all. I just wanted something real and there were a lot of bullshit conversations,” Hurwitz said. “People from that same group I’ll now see at parties and I’ll actually have a real conversation with them four years later. I guess we just grew up.”
Some students said they grew apart from initially close friends while finding unlikely friends down the road. Herdon and Hurwitz said they did not like each other freshman year, although they had the same group of friends.
As many of their common friends complained about GW and discussed transferring to other schools, the two bonded because of their agreement on making the most out of college.
The two planned on living together sophomore year with a mutual friend, although they still had reservations about one another. But after the move, they said they immediately hit it off. The pair lived together for three years, studied abroad at the same school in Florence and traveled around Europe for a month together.
“Here’s a WASPy girl from Tennessee and a Jewish girl from New Jersey;, you know, like what’s the chance that we’re going to get along well?” Hurwitz said.
So what’s the difference between friends in high school and friends at college?
“We’ve been through more reality together,” Herndon said. “We’ve lived together and helped paid bills together. In high school you’re just having a good time, but you’re friends at college are like your family. They’re your entire support system.”
But naturally, once a support system has been solidified and students are comfortable at school, it’s time to leave.
“I’ve spent four years building these relationships and now I’m moving alone to a city where I have no friends,” Hurwitz said.
So what does the future hold? Some students said they are headed to graduate school while others are still looking for jobs.
“I have a lot of anxiety, which I wasn’t anticipating,” Kopelovich said. “I’m nervous that this is the worst job market in two decades. But I’m not scared, just apprehensive.”
“I’m just scared of life being boring,” Hurwitz said. “Every semester you change classes, meet new people, you’ve got a different schedule every day, you do something different each summer and there’s always this possibility that the next segment is going to be great. But when I start the real world, I’m going to have two weeks vacation and I’m going to go to work from 8 to 4.”
Some seniors said they are prepared to face the challenges that will meet them in the future.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go,” senior Aaron Leitko said. “Now that I’m done with school, I don’t have an established direction so it’s up to me to me set the next destination.”
“This was only the second time in my life where I’ve not known anybody and had to start anew,” Kopelovich said. “I’m definitely more comfortable with myself as a person now.”
As a matter of fact, we all deserve a pat on the back just for making it to graduation.
“I’m really proud of all of us,” Hurwitz said. “Sometimes I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything here. We had all these expectations when we came in as (high school) seniors. When you go for your graduation interview and you see how many classes you took, it’s unreal. We took five classes, sometimes six a semester. We really have done a lot!'”
So have these four years been the best time of our lives? We’d like to think not, because it implies that the future won’t be so thrilling. But fortunately or unfortunately, there never will be another experience like this for any of us.
“I definitely think it has been some of the more interesting years of my life,” Leitko said. “But I don’t like the best years of my life adage because I’d feel bad if I just sat around for the rest of my life thinking about my college days.”
GW might not be what we expected when we were applying here. But hopefully we’ve done our best and taken some good memories with us.
“Nobody’s going to any college where they just walk in and everything’s cool,” Sweet said. “You’re going to (complain) about things regardless of what they are.”
“You’re not gonna find that perfect college,” he said. “But if you have good friends, it makes up for all that stuff.”
-The writer, a graduating senior, has worked for the GW Hatchet for two years.