Where to now?

Oh, boy. Where do I even start?

I hate goodbyes. I hate the weight it represents, the sadness it carries and the message others get from it. In many cases, goodbyes are things to celebrate. Goodbyes mean we’re moving on to something greater, something better. I also understand that sometimes goodbyes have to be said, even if we’re not quite ready for it yet.

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | Senior Graphic Artist

So here I am, in that exact position. I told myself I was going to wrap up my entire college experience in this last article, but that’s a ridiculous expectation. I’m going to try, and if I manage to capture even a fraction of what these last four years have meant to me, then I’ll consider it a success.

When I first landed in Boston in 2019, I was practically buzzing. This city symbolized the unknown: the mistakes I would make, the challenges I would face, but more importantly — the person I would become.

There was a frightening excitement in me at the thought that I would be falling asleep and waking up, thousands of miles from home. Everyone assured me that these were going to be the best years of my life, and it felt surreal to finally be living in it.

For a while, it felt like I was floating. The notion of college, where you would party all night and make lifelong friends, didn’t disappoint. Slow-dancing in the darkness of your friend’s room, meeting that boy you couldn’t get out of your mind and becoming a jittery ball of nerves when he asked you out on Valentine’s Day — the highs were intense. They exceeded all expectations and brought me to this new reality where “bad” was merely a concept and the good was untouchable.

That is, of course, until the bad happened. Until the days of homesickness, stress and uncertainty found the cracks in my life. It’s a dramatic way to put it, but I’m certain every college student has had moments so low it felt as if they couldn’t crawl out of it.

I was the same. And maybe it was naive of me to think that I wouldn’t be affected by it, but I was still an 18-year-old, who found adventure in something as simple as walking down Commonwealth Avenue to music blasting in my ears. Naivety is a part of our growth, and that’s something I needed to learn.

I’ve learned that a certain flower will make my eyes light up at the mere thought of them. I’ve learned that I’m a fabulous procrastinator, but that I can still somehow get the work done. And I’ve learned that through it all, through every horrible day I’ve had here, it’s always been about the people.

My friends. My family. My “oh, it’s complicated” situation. I’ve learned the most from people’s genuine souls and pure intentions just to see me succeed and be happy. I owe everything to them, and they’ve helped me grow into who I am today.

They’ve made me adore the bustling, non-stop environment this school is known for. I’m proud to say I was able to take advantage of that. I worked hard in my classes, stepped out of my comfort zone more than once and did all the things 7-year-old me could never even dream of doing. I hugged, laughed, kissed and loved.

I’ve loved it all. Down to the second.

It didn’t matter if I was crying my eyes out in the stairwell of the George Sherman Union because I was beginning to break. It didn’t matter if I was laughing with my roommates until ungodly hours of the night over something as stupid as Merida speaking in a Scottish accent. It was all so perfectly imperfect, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I don’t know where I’ll go from here. Maybe these really were the best years of my life, or maybe this is only the beginning. I have no idea what’ll happen. Yes, that’s terrifying — but also so exciting. How do I walk down this path now? That’s for me to decide.

With the lessons I’ve learned here, and the memories I’ve made, I have no doubts I’ll figure it out.

At the end of the day, there is one truth: I made it. I flew thousands of miles from home to be here, in a whole different country, and I managed to gain some unbelievable friends with memories that are nothing short of unforgettable. No matter where I end up, I at least get to say that. I think that’s a win, don’t you?

I can’t wait to witness sunrises in a different city, the excited jumps of my heart I have yet to feel at the thought of something beautiful, the people I have yet to love and everything in between. There’s so much more out there, but I won’t forget where it all started.

You’ve been so good to me, Boston. Thank you.

Where to now?

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