Nothing But Nostalgia

Six years ago, I started my freshman year at BYU.

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That was me. Not one of the statues. Not the red-haired girl on the left. But the wide-eyed, innocent youth on the right–so optimistic, so eager to prove himself in the real world.

Fast-forward four years of school, two years in the Philippines, a summer in the UK, five different apartments, seven sets of roommates, nine finals weeks, three jobs, forty-six blog posts, and countless slices of pizza, I find myself at the opposite end of my college experience.

Sometimes it feels like not much has changed since I started at BYU six years ago. In many ways, I guess I’m still that same wide-eyed, innocent freshman who liked to pretend that statues were real.

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But in many more ways, that wide-eyed, innocent freshman has died, never to live again. My eyes are now narrowed into slits of distrust, wary of the world around me and the people who occupy that world.

Nah, I’m kidding. I just wanted to be dramatic. The point is that a lot has happened since that first day of college back in 2008. Now, my entire college experience nothing but a memory, I can’t help but feel sentimental.

When I first started college, BYU seemed like such a magical place–like Hogwarts, only with less booze. But when classes like Transfiguration, Charms, and Defense Against the Dark Arts were sacrificed in favor of classes like American Heritage, biology, and psychology, it didn’t take me long to realize that BYU is not such a magical place after all.

Magical or not, however, BYU has been my home away from home for four out of the past six years, though it felt like home more at certain times than it did at others. College was a time of constant change, and each new semester was like a new book of the same series, a series called Matthew Does College or something more creative that I can’t think of right now. And as is the case with all book series, some books were more well-written than others. Some books had me up all night, wanting to see what came next. Other books found me reading out of sheer obligation, dredging through each chapter and looking forward to the final pages.

My experiences at BYU spanned what I believe to be the entire spectrum of the typical college experience… again, minus the booze.

College is about taking the first baby steps into the real world, which is exactly what I have done in the past six years. So despite the advice of TLC, I did go chasing waterfalls, and I did not stick to the rivers and the lakes I was used to.

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People might assume that, just because I went to a private church college, my college experience was sheltered and uneventful. Those people would be right.

Nevertheless, my college experience, unlike the BYU population, was diverse. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I both laughed and cried, both struggled and triumphed. I reaped the benefits of hard work and suffered the consequences of procrastination. I made decisions that will shape the rest of my life, for good or for bad.

Yes, I made mistakes–mistakes that I can never take back. Mistakes that I will always regret.

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Above is photographic evidence of a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life. That poor grass. How could I have been such a monster???

And I can’t help but ask myself, why does everyone make so many mistakes in their college years? In my opinion, it’s because college is this whole awkward phase where we wanted to expand our horizons or something philosophical like that. I know such has been the case in my life. For example, I once went skydiving… off the roof of my apartment… in a dream. Not that impressive I guess.

I didn’t do everything I wanted to do during college. I never visited the hot springs down in Spanish Fork. I never walked up to a random person and greeted them like I had known them my whole life, hugging them and saying, “I haven’t seen you in forever!”

Nevertheless, I had my fair share of new experiences. I scuba dived myself into a bloody nose, ice skated my way into a broken heart, and roller skated my way into an injured leg.

And as I look back at my time in college, a number of images flash through my mind, images that remind me just how… unique… my college experience has been.

I see myself buried in a pile of leaves.

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I see myself swimming in a sea of red jello… because I’m pretty sure that jello is the official Utah state food.

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I see my vision being obscured in a cloud of colors, chalk dust that turned my shower water a nasty shade of purple.

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I see all the people I met throughout the years, people I couldn’t imagine my life without.

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I see my first set of roommates, a group of the most different personalities you could possibly imagine. And yet, somehow, we (kind of) learned how to get along.

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I see my last set of roommates, who also got along even though (or perhaps because) we hardly ever saw each other, due to our conflicting schedules. Only we were able to gather together one final time at the end of the semester, united because three of us had a 7 a.m. final, and the other one was just crazy enough to be awake at such an ungodly hour.

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I see myself becoming part of a scooter gang. . .

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Because apparently that’s a thing.

I remember making this gem of a music video.

I see everything from fake engagements. . .

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. . .to actual weddings.

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Everything from my first day. . .

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. . .to graduation day.

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Moments when I laughed so hard that I cried.

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Moments when I cried so hard that I just had to laugh.

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I traveled the world and found myself in the process.

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But I never lost touch with my roots.

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I know that all those memories are just that… memories. Nothing more, nothing less. That time of my life is over. At times that realization makes me very happy, at others a little sad. But either way, it is time to move on.

And even though I’m not quite sure where life is going to take me now. . .

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. . .I do know that life is taking me someplace new. Everything has changed. In the blink of an eye, I have gone from being a poor college student to being just plain poor. So don’t tell me I haven’t evolved!

As I begin this new phase of my life, I feel like it’s time to leave certain things behind. Preferably, I would leave behind my insecurities, my weaknesses, my emotional baggage. But since that is easier said than done, I have decided to start by leaving behind this blog. That’s right, this is the last post I am ever going to do under this blog domain. Call me dramatic if you must, but every post in this blog has been connected to my college experience. Now that my college experience is over, I feel like it is time to end this blog as well.

I realize what this means. It means that the number of people who read my blog will plummet from three to zero, a drastic change. But anyone who is interested in still following my story can direct themselves here. Granted, I haven’t written anything in my new blog yet, but new posts are forthcoming.

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to read my musings, from my most popular musings to the musings that were much less popular (there were too many to link to just one). I hope you have enjoyed this journey as much as I have.

And now, I bid you farewell in the most appropriate, dignified way I can think of:

Bye, see ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!

And I mean that.

Europe–The Final Chapter: Last Day in the U.K.

Well, the day has finally come for me to write about my Europe study abroad for the last time.

Today I want to talk (or, to be more literal, write) about my last full day in the United Kingdom, because I feel like it was such a staple in my trip, and it was definitely one of my favorite days in the UK… if not one of my favorite days in life!

It was Sunday, August 4th, 2013. Why that even matters, I do not know. We were in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was the perfect day… not too hot and not too cold. All you needed was a light jacket! There was just the hint of a breeze, and it was cloudy but not rainy, which was pretty much a miracle seeing as we were in Scotland. To sum up, it was perfect kite-flying weather. Not that people fly kites anymore. Do they? Maybe I should say it was perfect hiking weather, because that’s what we ended up doing that day.  It was our last full day in the United Kingdom and we had to make the best of it. For us on that day, “making the best of it” involved hiking an extinct volcano. As one does while in Europe.

Since pictures speak a thousand words, I am going to post some of my favorite pictures from the hike of Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano that gave us glorious views of Edinburgh:

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After the hike, we went down to a small man-made loch at the base of Arthur’s Seat. We had missed out on going to the Loch Ness (which I won’t get into because that is a whole different tragic, violent story… OK so it wasn’t really violent, but I’d rather just forget about it), so this was the next best thing. Here, a skilled photographer (who had also taken some now-infamous fake engagement pictures for me) captured a photo that I feel embodies just how fun this trip ended up being:

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Doesn’t this look like the most fun study abroad group in the history of the world??!!!

By the time we were done hiking and loching (it’s a new word, look it up… but not really because I just made it up), the night was approaching, so it was nearly time for us to retire to the hostel. But first, a few of my classmates and I had to eat at a pub for the last time. Because the last day in Europe would not be complete without some good, cheap food.

That night, we said goodbye in a bit of an eccentric way. I gathered my good friends Jacob, Nicole, Katie, Kyra, Stephanie, and Becca to do a group huddle and sing/sway to The Graduation Song. For those of you who don’t know the song, here is the chorus:

For some reason, some of our party thought I was ridiculous for suggesting such a thing. Eyes were rolled, complaints were muttered, and people were called weird. But I laughed so hard that I cried. And in the end, don’t the best moments end in tears? Wait a minute… I might have to rethink that idea.

To top off the night, my beloved study abroad roommate (and the only other guy in the group) Jacob and I talked late into the night. There is just something about the bond between study abroad roommates that cannot quite be matched by anything else. We enjoyed our late-night talks in Europe, and this last one was no different. It was the perfect way to conclude my final day in the UK!

I will never forget that last day on the British Isles. It’s crazy to believe that it has already been a month and a half since I got back from Europe. My life has been changed for the better because I decided to go on that study abroad. I made some of my closest friends and also created some of my favorite memories. But most of all, I freaking got to go to Europe!

And on that dignified note, I will conclude my musings about my study abroad once and for all. Thanks for reading!