Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3rd Challenge: Take One Picture a Day

Last week I took a picture a day as my challenge.  It was my last week of classes, my last week of being a Hope College student and my last week being a sib.  And it was a wonderful conclusion to the best four years of my life.

I'll admit, I was a creep on Monday when I took this picture of my housemates without them knowing it (sorry Steph) but I had to capture the moment.  It's so rare that we're all in the same space at the same time and as I pretended to work on homework (I was clearly on facebook instead) the girls looked through pictures from freshman year.  These are some of my favorite people and I've had such a fun year living with them.  

Tuesday was busy and as I ran around campus dodging rain and finishing up final details for a presentation I stopped by the Kletz to get lunch.  Something I'll really miss about being at Hope College is running into friends  around campus.  The six of us randomly happened to be there that day at 1:00pm and I got to join these lovely freshman for lunch.  Seeing them made my day feel complete.    

The Greek Awards took place on Wednesday and  finally got to accept the award that I had been keeping a secret for three weeks.  I was told that I had been selected for Greek Women of the Year the first week of April and I had no idea who nominated me.  On Wednesday I found out that the girl on the far left of this picture- my cousin and gbaby- nominated me.  I was beyond flattered, I felt special and appreciated.  It felt so good to be recognized. 

Thursday deserves two pictures.  The first picture was taken in the middle of the last class presentation I will ever experience at Hope College.  I wasn't even subtle about my creep-status while taking this picture because the flash on my iPhone accidently went off, sorry Comm 470.  But no one would believe me if I told them that the last presentation I would sit through in college was on a cultural analysis of South Park.  

The second picture is how I spent my Thursday night.  Two of my housemates and I sat in the upstairs living room of our house and sorted through all our sib clothes, which turned out to be a lot of t-shirts, sweatshirts and costumes.  We have this wonderful tradition in our sorority called willing, it serves as a type of closure and a way to keep tradition alive by passing down our letters to younger girls in the organization.  We stayed up till 3:30 in the morning and had a few visitors spend the night.

Friday needs three pictures: the royal wedding took place at 6 am, it was the last chapel of the year and Friday was May Day.  So many good things.  

If you did the math- I only got two in a half hours of sleep before I had to be up for the royal wedding.  If you know me well, you're probably wondering why I sacrificed sleep for a silly wedding, but let me just say extra credit was involved.  Professor Housel hosted a royal wedding party and it was totally worth going to.  There's something special about weddings as the ultimate profession of love and there's definitely something about a girl marrying a prince as the ultimate dream for any romance.  

Walking to chapel Friday morning was sentimental for me because I knew it would be my last.  Chapel has been such a huge part of my life at Hope and I will miss the chapel songs, holding hands with sibs when we pray and having a sacred and holy place on campus that feels like home. 

And then there was May Day.  Every other campus in the United States have days like this on the reg, but we are Hope College and we have a dry campus.  So this annual off-campus keg crawl on the last day of classes is a big deal for our little school.  I ran into Will and Reed- two friends from high school- and we all got to catch up, which reminded me of how far we've come since Dow High.   

My older brother graduated from the University of Michigan on Saturday and I got to witness the massive celebration.  It was an interesting contrast to see the type of college experience my brother had compared to the one I had.  He is seated somewhere in that crowd of 6,000 graduates.  Saturday felt like a foreshadow to my graduation that would take place 8 days after his, minus about 5,300 people.

Senior bunch was on Sunday, another sorority tradition.  We received our notecards, watched the senior slide show and I gave my senior talk.  It was a day that I had been looking forward to since I was freshman, every year for the past three years I have watched seniors before me leave the sorority and senior bunch is the last time the whole sorority gets to be together in one space.  It was bitter and sweet.  I was the last to read my senior paper and I thought I would include some of it in my blog, here's how I ended my paper:
So for what it’s worth, I want you to realize that this college thing only lasts for four years, so spend your time wisely.  Find out who you are in this time and create a solid foundation for yourself.  Dance on kitchen counters and stay up all night talking about God.  Prioritize people and figure out what’s important to you.  Stop pretending like you’ve got it all together because you don’t, and I don’t, the truth is nobody does.  Make mistakes, wake up regretting your decisions and loose your composure.  College is a great time to mess up, you have been allotted four years to learn from your mistakes- even if it takes a few falls to learn your lesson, you are surrounded by people who will help you up, hold your hand when you cry and help you learn what works and what doesn’t. You can make the best or worst of this.  I hope you make the best of it.  I hope you feel things you never felt before.  I hope you meet people who challenge what you believe in.  I hope you love your college experience as much as I have and I hope that when you take the seat for your senior talk, that you are a better person than you are right now.
From the bottom of my heart and every inch of my being, thank you for this experience.  I love you all.
Going to Hope College, being in my sorority, living in Holland Michigan, being a loyal addict and customer at LemonJellos, attending chapel, going on sushi dates, learning in class and developing important friendships throughout the past four years have all shaped me in ways that are hard to articulate.  

I've had an incredible experience, and the past week was a perfect conclusion to it all. 
Reflecting on my college experience and thinking about the next stage in life has really given me a new perspective to this whole graduating college thing.  When I walk across that stage and receive my diploma in less than a week, it's going to feel like the end.  But that gives me no reason to stop.  I will keep going from here, keep improving the world I live in, keep improving the lives of the people I am surrounded by and keep loving the life I live.  Because I believe I have so much to look forward to.