Opinions expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
In May 2013, I felt like I had 27,000 reasons not to come to the University of Maryland. My thinking: Too close to home. Too many kids from my high school graduating class. Too big of a pond — with way, way too many undergrads.
Coming from a high school of 1,200 students, the sheer size of this university threw me for a loop. There are almost exactly as many undergraduate students here as there are National Park Service employees. The difference, of course, is that those 27,000 Park Service employees are spread out over 52.2 million acres. Our campus is about 2 square miles.
Eventually, I came around. The finances made too much sense to ignore, a kid named Melo Trimble had just committed and the school's proximity to Washington was a nice perk. With professional school aspirations, I figured I'd take the money and try not to get eaten as a small fish in the proverbial large pond.
With two weeks left, I have yet to be eaten. Truthfully, I've loved my time here and couldn't imagine going anywhere else. Maybe it's the nostalgia goggles I'm wearing as I type this, but I'm even beginning to fondly remember the The North Campus Dining Hall. Truly, time heals all wounds (looking at you, now-defunct quesadilla station).
Emily Dickinson wrote, "By a departing light/ We see acuter, quite." Retrospectively, then, let's process some of the clichés of college and see if they hold water four years hence.
"Follow your passions!" I'd call this one valid, with a slight amendment. I'd suggest finding an outlet for your passions, which is not necessarily the same thing as pursuing them professionally. Certainly, I'd never make it as a writer, but I do love the process — and by my count, this is my 51st published editorial.
"Step outside your comfort zone!" This one gets two thumbs up from me. College is the perfect time to get a dumb haircut. It's also a particularly consequence-free time to test out a bunch of possible interests and see what resonates. Some will hit — I've discovered a latent fascination with English Language Learner education policy — and some will miss (I'm still on the ListServ, though, horticulture club. Sorry).
"These are the best years of your life!" The jury's still out on this one, but I hope it's wrong. I'm not prepared to resign myself to a downhill slope from here on out.
As it turns out, coming to this university was the best decision I've made. That's not to say it was a perfect experience. Part of the message is to enjoy the good, and to try and learn something from the bad and the ugly. Four years hence, I'm about 10 pounds heavier and 10 years more grown up.
Maryland, it's been a pleasure. Go Terps.
Jack Siglin is a senior physiology and neurobiology major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.