Welcome to Around the Grove, the official student blog of The Universities at Shady Grove! Students are able to blog about their college experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom. Read about their triumphs, trials and everyday lives that makes being a college student so uniquely life changing — and challenging. Feel free to connect with them by leaving a comment or asking them questions.
Not everyone is currently feeling this way, but maybe you are – you feel a change in the air. You can tell you’re entering a phase of transition in your life, or perhaps you’re already deep in it. It can feel like a riptide – pulling you in an unknown direction with nothing you can do to stop it or change its mysterious course. But just like in a real riptide, the best course of action is just to relax and let the current carry you to where you’re meant to be. Whether you’re about to graduate (like me), moving, starting or ending relationships, or you just generally feel like things are shifting, here are some tips to ride the wave.
Gather Your Team
Going through changes is highly stressful, and no one should have to do it alone! If you’re anticipating a period of transition, now is the time to start compiling your list of-go-to uplifters, whether that’s friends, family, partners, community leaders, your cat – anyone you know you can trust to be a source of honesty and unconditional support.
Pack your Toolbox
Here’s a tip I got from my therapist for periods of high stress – keep a menu of relaxing and/or energizing activities for when you feel yourself spinning out of control. My toolbox include going for a walk, listening to my favorite songs, crocheting, cooking, and watching funny videos. Make it a mix of high-energy and low-energy activities, and at least one thing for each of the five senses. Keep your toolbox handy so you can easily reference it when the riptide is getting the best of you.
Create Space for Reflection
If you’re in a transition stage in your life, that means something really important is happening – whether it’s obvious or not. Even when you feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions and you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off, make sure you allow space and time to sit with your feelings and reflect on what they mean. This can take the form of journaling, silent meditation, or weekly check-ins with a trusted confidant. Whatever way works best for you, reflection will ensure you get the greatest benefit from this transition.
Reframe Fear Into Excitement
This one is way easier said than done, but if you’re able to practice it then it can make a big difference. Whenever you catch yourself responding with fear, like “I’m really not ready for school to start”, try to reframe the fear into gratitude or excitement, like “I’m really looking forward to exploring a new subject” or “I’m grateful I had the summer to recharge before diving back into studying”. Even if you don’t believe it right away, this practice can be super effective in easing the stress of transitional periods.
The reality is, change often sucks. It’s messy, it’s scary, and it can make us feel like everything is going wrong. But, if you trust the process and follow the tips above, the riptide will eventually drop you off in a new stage of life with rewards and opportunities you can’t yet even imagine.
This summer, I have tried to fly four times total; only one of those flights has gone off without a hitch. That flight was perfect. The plane was quiet, the flight was smooth, and I didn’t have anyone trying to take over my seat the entire time. Most importantly, the flight was on time and actually flew. My other three flights, not so much.
My first two flights of the summer didn’t even make it off the ground. Canceled while I was on the bus to the airport, my first flight was rescheduled for three days later. My second flight was delayed and then canceled again for a flight the following day. And my third flight was delayed for 30 minutes only 30 minutes before boarding, and then 30 minutes again.
It is hard to not be annoyed when sitting in an airport and hoping that a plane will do what you paid it to do, and as someone who has been there four times in the last two months, I can say I completely understand. However, in a time of uncertainty with airlines (with the pilot shortages and pilot strikes), annoyance and anger will only put you on the top of everyone’s TikTok For You page as the next Karen. Here are some things I have learned as a frequent flier these last few months that I had wished I had known before stepping foot in the airport:
1.) The Front Desk Folks Cannot Give You a Refund
When my first flight was canceled, we were already on the bus to the airport, our car was already parked and paid for, and all of our trips were already planned. So we had to take that flight; we couldn’t wait three days. We got in line with the Southwest front desk, hoping for a refund. This was a mistake. The folks at the front desk do not have the ability to grant refunds, only switch your flight, and when all flights are canceled, the lines get incredibly long, incredibly fast. We ended up waiting in that line for two hours, only to learn that a phone call would have sufficed. So, when in doubt, call the customer service line first before stepping foot into any long lines. It might save you some precious vacation time.
2.) Try Not to Check Your Bag, If You Can
I have been so grateful during these four flights that I did not need to worry about the possibility of losing my checked bag during the uncertainty of 2022 airport travel. Once your bag is checked, the airports have your bag, and any delays and cancelations add another level of uncertainty to your already shaky travel plans. By traveling with only carry-on, I haven’t had to worry about any lost bags or concerns about getting my bags back when my flights were canceled entirely, unlike many of my fellow potential passengers did. It was a welcome relief to have my bag in my sight the whole time, even if it did mean slimming down on my packing during the days before.
3.) When in Doubt, Take The End Seat
Hear me out on this one. For years, my biggest fear with flying has been that my ears will bubble during the flight and that the final 15 minutes of the flight will be excruciating as the air in my ears fails to match the pressure around me. These past few flights have allowed some trial and error though, and come to find out, sitting closest to the aisle seems to alleviate these issues. So, even though the window seat is ideal, if you aren’t feeling the best or even just have a tendency for airplane ears like me, try the isle seat next time rather than investing in another pack of gum.
Okay… maybe not everyone. But Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) – along with all other table-top roleplaying games (TTRPGs) – are more beneficial than you might think. D&D is a role-playing game that allows a group of people to create their own characters and go on adventures in a world designed by a “game master”, who plays the game along with you as they describe scenes and fill in dialogue as a variety of characters. These games can be fantastical with literal dragons and dungeons, or they can take place in realistic locations like highs schools or beach towns. The only limit is your creativity!
While there are dozens of different types of TTRPGs, D&D is certainly the most popular (you can see it being played in the classic film E.T.). First published in 1974, the game has been historically associated with antisocial nerds, but over the past decade it has gained a lot more mainstream popularity, to the point that there is a live-action D&D film set to release in 2023 starring big-ticket celebrities like Chris Pine and Bridgerton heartthrob Regé-Jean Page.
But it’s not just a fun little game – it actually has a lot of benefits! For example:
It brings people together, whether in-person or virtually
The #1 goal for TTRPGs is to bring people together. There isn’t really a limit to the number of people that can play together, and thanks to digital platforms like Discord and Roll20, it’s easy to play together virtually, no matter the distance! This was a lifesaver at the beginning of the pandemic, because I was able to have fun with my friends safely and play this cool game together.
It provides and outlet for creative expression
Have you ever wanted to get into improv or acting, but been too scared to get on stage! D&D allows you to create your own character and take on a whole new persona as you role-play with friends, so it’s a great way to express yourself in a creative way! And if you want to be the game master, you basically get to write the story, design the setting, and even paint little figurines if you want to!
It sharpens your problem-solving and teamwork skills
No matter the setting, D&D presents you with some kind of challenge, puzzle, or mystery to solve as a team. It can be fighting a giant monster, solving a murder, or just answering a troll’s riddle – but you have to figure it out together. Each character has their own unique skills and abilities, so its crucial for your group to communicate and play to each others strengths in order to win the day.
Have you been convinced? Go find a group of friends and see if they’re interested! You’ll be surprised where the adventure can take you.
With only about 50 days left of summer, and the school season creeping back into view, I am always reminded around now to look back at my last 3 months of summer vacation and consider if I spent it to its fullest; if I did everything I wanted to while it was warm and sunny and I didn’t have class to worry about. The answer is usually no, of course, and my mind always begins to race with ideas and plans on how to spend my final summer days, and how to make this summer a memorable one I can look back on and smile about.
Here is my list of 15 things to do with my 50 final days:
1.) Go to the Beach
I find myself lucky to live in Maryland, considering that finding time to drive 2+ hours for a beach is certainly a daunting task. With the nearby parks and reserves that boast their own miniature beaches, such as Sandy Point State Park and Terrapin Nature Park, its easy to find a beach day without driving too far.
2.) Take a Hike
It wont be long before we lose our evening sunlight again, and hiking after work and school has allows for some of the most spectacular views of the Maryland sunset, breaking through the foliage of our many forests. Take the time to follow a trail and see where it goes!
3.) Pick Some Flowers
Soon we will lose the lovely greenery we have come accustomed to in the last few months. Many local farms currently are allowing you to pick your own bouquets of flowers, and I’d argue that bringing summer into the air conditioning is the perfect way to honor its final days.
4.) Find a Farmers Market
As the days get cooler, we will soon lose access to so many seasonal fruits and veggies, so there is no better time than now to find a local farmers market and make the most of it with selections of fresh grapes, strawberries, and watermelon!
5.) Take a Road Trip
Sometimes the best memories are made away from the world you know. Find a cheap AirBnB a state or two away and just take a weekend outside of Maryland to relax and enjoy everything that you can while you don’t have homework or winter bogging you down.
6.) Find an Amusement Park
Maryland tends to sit right in the middle of many local amusement parks. From some of the smaller places like the Enchanted Forest to the big hitters like Six Flags and Hershey Park, a day of thrill is certainly well deserved, or even a day lounging in the local lazy rivers. For a bit of fun, try a place you’ve never been, like maybe the local fair a few counties away.
7.) Tie Dye Something
Bring out your inner kid and mentally take a trip back to summer camp by doing the fun little arts and crafts you loved to do when you were little. With just a bin, some food dye, and a $5 shirt from Michaels, you can make a mess just like the good ol’ days. Shrink-a-dinks and bead crafts are also always a great time.
8.) Find some Local Ice-cream
Maryland has so many local ice-cream places that there is even an ice-cream crawl that you can enjoy. You can complete the trail all the way up till September 30th, or just peruse the 10 ice-cream places involved if you’d like. All are absolutely delicious, and I can say that with confidence having tried them all!
9.) Spend some Time at an Outdoor Brewery or Distillery
Some of the best breweries function almost entirely outdoors, and soon the seasons will shift, making it harder to enjoy these experiences without the usual autumn chill. Big Truck Farm Brewery and Hopkins Brewery both have this kind of outdoor vibe, though these are certainly not the only ones, and an evening at a brewery is always a great time!
10.) Find an Outside Yoga Class
I know its not ideal to wake up early on a summer morning, but I promise watching the sunrise while taking a class is well worth the loss of sleep. Many local towns offer yoga around Maryland’s many natural features, and you can find these classes through Facebook Events, the Meetup app, and even AirBnB Events!
11.) Make some Smores
Smores are the quintessential summer snack, whether baked, grilled, or traditionally cooked over an open fire. The times you spend with friends under starlight during a summer smores sess will be ones you will remember for years to come!
12.) Spend Some Time at A Drive-In
Drive-ins still exist in Maryland, and they are some of the most fun ways to share a movie and some snacks with friends during the summer. Places like Bengies allow you the chance to turn off your car and tune into the big 2022 blockbusters all while enjoying the warmth and clear skies that summer in Maryland offers.
13.) Enjoy an Outside Concert
Find yourself a beach towel or a lawn chair and give yourself an evening of your favorite genre played by a local band. From jazz to rock to pop and hiphop, Maryland’s many venues give you a chance to enjoy the summer breeze and the sweet notes of up-in-coming artists all on the grass and ground.
14.) Row Yourself into a Lake
Maryland’s many rivers allow for paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes to be easily rented around the shores, and some of the most beautiful views in Maryland can be found in the middle of its waters. Find yourself a quiet spot out in the water and watch the trees sway or read a book at total peace as you float away down stream.
15.) Take a Drive
Go see the world for one last time, windows down, music blaring, as it is in its fully alive state. You wont be able to see it like this for another year, so take it in as much as you can, and enjoy yourself in its warmth and color before everything begins to fall.
We’re all aware that inflation is a serious problem nowadays, and it feels like everything is way more expensive than it ever has been. Whether you love to shop for fun, or just need to buy the essentials, I think we’re all feeling the strain on our wallets. Looking for ways to find what you need (or just want) without breaking the bank? Try secondhand shopping! Not only will buying secondhand ensure lower prices, but it also helps the environment by offsetting the carbon footprint of constantly buying newly manufactured goods. Here are a few great options for shopping secondhand:
The first place you probably think of when you hear secondhand shopping are thrift stores like Goodwill (did you know you can shop Goodwill finds online?), where you can buy goods that people have donated for an affordable price. It can take quite a while to sift through the racks and shelves, but if you’re dedicated, you could walk out with some really incredible finds at a great price! Check out this interactive map of thrift stores in Maryland!
Instead of waiting for people to donate their treasures to thrift stores, go right to the source! Especially now during the summer, all you have to do is walk or drive around on a Saturday morning and you’re sure to finds a “yard sale this way!” sign within a few minutes. Yard sales area fun way to find some unique items, but it can also be a great way to meet your neighbors and feel more connected with your community. Check your neighborhood website and social media pages to see if there are any organized yard sale events coming up soon!
Facebook Marketplace or Buy Nothing Groups
Speaking of social media, you can go secondhand shopping without even having to leave the house! If you have a Facebook account and you haven’t been looking through Facebook Marketplace, you are seriously missing out. Marketplace is especially great for furniture and home goods (over half of the furniture in my house is from Marketplace). Oftentimes you will have to go pick up your purchase, but some sellers will even offer delivery service with an extra fee.
Another great Facebook feature are “Buy Nothing” groups. They are usually location-specific groups where people will offer and ask for certain goods they may need or want. The main rule? You can’t ask for any money in exchange. Everything in these groups must be offered for free, which is a fantastic system that allows people in the same community to support each other without any financial burden. Try looking up “[your town/neighborhood] buy nothing group” on Facebook, and if you can’t find one, go ahead and make one! Be the change you want to see!
Other Social Media/Websites
Nextdoor – social media platform for neighborhood-specific communication. Their “Finds” feature works very similarly to Facebook Marketplace
Poshmark – a great place to buy and sell secondhand clothes online. I personally have not used this service, but a few of my friends swear by it!
Happy shopping, my friends! Your wallet and the environment will thank you!
It’s around this point in summer that I start to get a bit tired of blistering heat, extreme storms, and the fact that you have to water every plant you own at least twice a day for it stop dying. Don’t get me wrong; I love summer, but it definitely pales in comparison to the cool autumn breezes, the grinning mugs of Jack-o-lanterns, and the pure joy of jumping into leaf piles at top speed. With almost 100 days till Halloween, I personally feel it is time to celebrate the spookiest time of year, even if the sun and the summer seem to disagree.
A few ways to celebrate Summer-ween around Maryland:
Wander through a cemetery
Since Maryland’s inception, history has followed its coattails, and maybe the best way to scratch your Halloween itch is also the most unique way to embrace the history that allowed the world around you to grow. Maryland has many cemeteries around its lands, each housing fascinating figures of history, and each with their own story of how time was before. It’s spooky and a little scary, but the best parts of Halloween are. And you can do this anytime of year!
Take a gander at Maryland Ghost Tours if you’re looking for an informative time under the glow of the moon. Their tours allow you to learn about histories’ featured figures like Francis Scott Key and Thomas Johnson, and highlight that wild and weird stories of cemeteries through the ages. Tours are 90 minutes each, generally starting at 7:00 pm, and only cost $15 for adults. If you’re looking for a whole spooky extravaganza, they also offer Ghost Tours as well!
Mini Golf with Some Ghosts
Is wandering through graves not really your cup of tea? What about some mini golf?
Scary Stroke in Charles County features one of the spookiest black light mini golf courses in Maryland. During your 18 hole escapade through the cartoonishly depicted occult, you’ll meet with Frankenstein, a group of pirates, and even the sphinx in 14 highly decorated rooms. Once you’re done your game, you can play in their arcade, or experience another world in the Virtual Reality room. Golfing is $12 per person, and Scary Strokes is open every day!
Explore the Caverns
A little ways away from Maryland, you can find a whole new world’s worth of caverns, caves, and systems right beneath Virginia. At $31 a person, the Shenandoah Caverns allow you to hang with bats and stalactites in the hollows of Virginia while experiencing a guided tour through the mineral majesty. Better yet, the caverns sit at 56 degrees year round, allowing you to beat the summer heat and join in on the fun of the spookier time of year by just demoting around 200 feet into the ground. Tours begin at 10am daily, while the gift shop opens at 9am.
Mysteries at Home
Now, I understand. It’s incredibly hot, humid, and all around miserable outside this time of year. Sometimes, just waiting for your car to cool down is too much of a task to handle in this kind of weather. I have good news then, if going to the hauntings is a bit out of your comfort zone, you can still bring the haunts to you!
With at home murder mystery games like Escape the Crate, the Deadbolt Mystery Society, and Dispatch, you never need to leave the comfort of your own AC unit to experience the thrills and chills of Halloween. Each subscription box offer short-term mysteries, spurred on by crime scene evidence, story modes, and clues delivered straight to your door. With Escape the Crate, you can join the mystery for as little as two boxes, or even by playing the virtual games they have to supplement the experiences they offer. With Deadbolt Mystery Society, you can get one-time boxes that give you up to hours of fun. With Dispatch, the stories are more vague and foreboding, giving you a horror experience like you’ve never seen. Each box comes highly reviewed, and they all can keep you occupied with good Halloween fun all the way up to spooky season! Prices range from $25 to $60 for short term box games.
Thinking of something positive to write about this week is really hard. So instead of pretending that things are okay, I’m going to write about how important it is to prioritize your own well-being when things don’t feel okay.
Prioritizing your own wellness can seem very selfish, especially in the face of widespread hardship. You might think that you have no right to relax or treat yourself because you should be contributing to the world in some meaningful way at all times. But that notion is not only false, but also incredibly harmful. It is impossible to sustain a constant schedule of productivity without completely running yourself into the ground, at which point you’ll be no good to anybody. It’s okay to slow down.
If you need someone to give you permission, here it is: you’re allowed to prioritize your wellness. Even if you think you don’t deserve it, or someone else deserves it more. You not only deserve it, you NEED it to keep doing the amazing things that you are doing. So there, you have permission.
Now, this is not to say that you have permission to ignore what is going on around you and completely disregard the needs of others. Rather, this is just a reminder that if your plan doesn’t include rest and recovery, then that is a plan destined to fail.
If you’re like me, and still have a hard time prioritizing your wellness – or you’re just not sure what that even looks like – here are a few examples for insipration:
- Take a sick day
I actually wrote an entire post about this one a few months ago – read it here!
- Go shopping – locally, of course!
Did you know that retail therapy can also help your community? If you focus on shopping at small businesses in your area, you can treat yourself while also stimulating the local economy!
- Minimize media overload
Staying informed on current events is extremely important, but if your phone is constantly pinging with headlines and newsclips, it can be impossible to relax or focus. There are a lot of ways to minimize your media intake to healthy level, ranging from deleting all news and social apps, to turning off notifications, to setting specific times of day where you allow yourself to look at the news. Experiment with different levels to find a balance between up-to-date and calm state.
- Talk with safe people
It’s great to be able to discuss significant topics and events with diverse groups that may have different ideas and opinions, but if you’re worried that talking to someone about a certain topic could be emotionally triggering, or even just exasperating, it’s okay to only seek out like-minded folk. Talking to someone you know won’t be judgmental or reactionary is really important for processing your thoughts and feelings.
It’s okay to slow down and look after yourself. Stay strong.
A cool breeze broke through the warming air, drifting the skirt of my dress to the side. I crossed my legs to try and cover myself some and shifted so the sun may not reach the pale winter skin I had forgotten to cover in sunscreen. In my hands a little pamphlet sat a bit crooked, its pages bookmarked as if by an owner before me, though I was nearly sure the perforation came from how it had been hastily stored in the box I grabbed it from. The pamphlet was important as it would be the first of many to bare my little brother’s name; the first of many to congratulate him for completing his school. And while I was proud of him, proud to be sitting in this stadium and listening to the growing crowd of excited families around me, I couldn’t bare to open the little packet or to see his name myself.
I didn’t consider it much when I graduated, first high school, then undergrad. It was the end, I thought both times, the end of an era and the beginning of another. I had the same thought there on the little fold-out stool at the stadium; an end of an era for sure, but not one I was all too excited to accept.
My little brother may not think it, but for years at a time, I have considered him one of my best friends. He has always been someone I can talk to about anything, and who would understand me just as I am. He was always there as a shoulder, as a confidant, or as a sounding board. And as we both became older and we spent more time together, the more I considered him so. My heart stung a bit as I sat in the stadium at his graduation waiting for him to take his seat and cross the stage. It stung cause I knew that, even though he would always be my brother, there was no telling that after this era if he would ever be as close of a friend.
I knew he would leave in August for school, and then that was that.
I couldn’t bring myself to open the book. I couldn’t bring myself to see his name there, to know when he would cross the stage. I couldn’t bring myself, even as I sat there happy and excited and so incredibly proud of my little brother, to accept that this was the end of an era. That he wasn’t my little brother, not really, anymore.
The short buzz of a text message pulled my eyes from the cover of the pamphlet and toward my phone.
“I don’t know if this is still your number,” I read through the harsh reflection on the screen, “but are you at graduation today?”
Every thought of my brother dropped and I read and reread the message again. I couldn’t believe it, staring at the short little question. It was my childhood best friend, reaching out for the first time in five years, since our very own High School graduation. The contact picture was still Mulan from when we went to Disney World together for our senior trip, the very last time I saw her, or even spoke to her for that matter. Her contact still held the poem she had sent me for my 18th birthday, and the list of her favorite things just in case her birthday came out of the blue. I had thought she had changed her number when she left Maryland, gone for good, but here she was, in bright blue buzzing my phone.
“Yes!” I responded as quickly as I could, hoping to keep her attention. “Are you here?”
She had moved out almost immediately after graduation. She wanted to be a Pixar animator, and she had the talent for it. She could draw anything you could think of solely from memory. When I was really little, she was the one who got me entirely fascinated by art and entirely enraptured in reading. She is who I blame for my need to write, and my goals for the future; she is a prime reason for who I am today. And when she left for college, I was devastated, but I knew she wouldn’t be who she wanted to be staying where she was. I knew she needed to go.
“I am here for my boyfriend’s sister,” Her message was almost instant. “I saw your brother’s name in the pamphlet.”
My last moments with her were on the flight home from Disney. We had been friends at that point for over 10 years. We had spent time living at each other’s houses and going places together. We had grown up side by side and helped each other get through elementary school and middle school and high school. Our parents still sent each other Christmas cards. And then one day, she was gone, off to art school in South Carolina.
“Would it be weird if I came and found you?” I asked after a brief pause. I could feel my anxiety surfacing a bit.
When she left, I did my best to keep in touch. I would reach out when she posted something new on Instagram. I wanted to congratulate her on every accomplishment, to be a voice of encouragement even if I was five states away. But life gets hard, and no one ever says college is easy, and soon my goal evaporated as my own struggles blinded me. By the time undergrad had ended, I tried to reach back out, but it wasn’t the same. I sadly accepted the fact that I had lost it, what I had, and I hadn’t even realized it.
“Of course not,” her reply took some time. “I am heading to the bathrooms, so we can meet there?”
I shot up from my seat, gave a few quick words to my mom, and made my way back up the stadium. The breeze seemed to push me from behind, excited for my encounter, anxious to see the reunion. I held the bottom of my dress down with one hand as I rushed up the stairs and looked around the stands for her, for any semblance of the best friend I had known.
“What are you wearing?” I rushed out a message, and she responded just as quick. “I am wearing blue.”
Everyone needs to accept that time will do its thing and dull the world around it. Every flower wilts and every rock turns to sand. And every friendship, if given enough time, will lose its strength. That was what I was so worried about with my brother, that we too would dull with time. That he wouldn’t smile at our stupid inside jokes anymore, or that I wouldn’t get to hear his snide remarks about mundane things. That we would lose that like I had lost with my friend. College taught me how much letting people go hurt, and how exhausted it made me. And an end to an era always means letting go.
A long blue dress made its way toward me, topped with the memorable curly bob of blonde hair. I could feel the smile on my face grow as she got closer. She hadn’t changed a bit. She still wore her clothes like a costume, still paraded herself like an actress. She still wore the smile of confidence I knew from elementary school and was as expressive as she was when we did theater. She hadn’t changed a bit, except for the tattoo that wrapped her arm, the heels she took extra time to walk in, and the way she grabbed at the waist of her dress when she didn’t know what to say. She was still there though, and she still gave me the biggest hug she could when I ran her way.
I cannot say the conversation was easy, but I guess years will do that; dull what was. But it was there when it didn’t have to be. And she was there when she didn’t have to be. And she found me when she didn’t have to. Five years were still five years, but somehow less than it had been before.
My brother was about to have the same day we did, and it was wild to even consider. This was the last day we saw each other, and the first day we saw each other again. And I realized that my brother would have many similar days that I would get to see and be proud of. He would be there, no matter the time. Good friends are always there, no matter the time.
We stayed and talked until the graduates began to make their walk to their seats and we had to go. I made my way back down to my seat knowing I may never see her again, with her living in California now, and yet a smile was still stuck on my face. It had been enough for me, for now.
My pamphlet was waiting on my chair when I got there, and with both hands lightly on the pages, I found my brother’s name. Bright and bold, he was there too, as he would always be.
Nothing kills your social life like a two-year global pandemic. Not only was it virtually impossible to meet new people, but keeping up with existing friends could at times be an emotionally exhausting task. Can anyone else relate? The good news is, things continue to become progressively safer (knock on wood) and we as a society can go back to facing the greatest challenge of adult life – making new friends.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting someone new through a mutual friend. All we did was get lunch and chat a bit, but it was such a wonderful feeling to make a connection with someone I had never known before. We were lucky – by sheer coincidence we agreed on many things and shared similar interests and passions, so getting to know this person was a breeze. By the end of the interaction we had shared phone numbers and were already calling each other friends – even though we had only met about two hours ago! In reality, it was a very mundane event, but I left with such a pleasant spark in my chest that I knew something very meaningful had just occurred. I made a new friend.
Coincidentally, I work at a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to create relationships across lines of difference in order to strengthen communities, so I quite literally help people become friends for a living. But my organization works with the knowledge that relationships like friendships aren’t just pleasant – they can make real impacts in people’s lives, as well as larger communities. In my work, I’ve identified some key tools for making and maintaining authentic relationships:
- Find common interests – even if that’s just a TV show or sport that you both like, it can lay the groundwork for finding a deeper connection
- Be physically and authentically present – when you meet someone new, try to be your truest self, and give them your full attention. That’s the quickest way to find out if you are actually compatible.
- Find the humor – most people say that a shared sense of humor is the most important thing they value in a friendship, so try to laugh as much as possible! Even if you’re just laughing at how awkward things are.
- Be patient, and be resilient – most meaningful connections don’t happen overnight. If a prospective friend isn’t being super responsive, just give it time. And don’t give up!
There! Now you’re fully set up to go forth and make some friends. Good luck!
I am a graduating senior, and I am both frightened and eager about what lies ahead. I’m sure many of us graduating seniors feel the same way. We’ll all follow different paths some, will continue their studies, while others may take a gap year or perhaps travel the world. Whatever we do, we must strive to be the greatest versions of ourselves and continue on our paths to self-discovery and achievement. All of our journeys have been different, some of us have taken longer to figure out what to do or have had to handle personal issues all while being college students. So many accomplishments within this graduating class, and it’s all worth celebrating. No victory is too small (especially not receiving a degree!).
Graduation is the cherry on top, especially after a difficult few years. I started my Junior year during the COVID-19 pandemic when everything was at a halt, and we were all virtual with no hope in sight. It was a scary time and we students were put up with the challenge of maintaining our grades and sanity in an unimaginable circumstance. We didn’t get to start our senior year enjoying or exploring the lovely campus at USG as much as the seniors before us and we had to deal with everything ourselves. But this final year, I made up for that lost time, and I’m sure most of us have grown to love this campus as much as I do. This year has been fantastic. I met incredible individuals and instructors, had a great time at events, and most importantly, I will be receiving my bachelor’s degree in science.
When I think about my accomplishments and the accomplishments of others, I realized how we all managed to strive through the unthinkable, and for that, I congratulate each and every one of you. No matter what degree or path you take, may you succeed and keep on fighting. I’ll miss USG and its beautiful campus, but it is time to move on to the next chapter of our lives.
CONGRATS GRADUATING CLASS OF 2022!!!
P.S. Don’t forget to share your USG experiences with others because this campus is full of so many opportunities! Anyways, LET’S CELEBRATE!