If you see me or any other seniors around campus, wish us well. The fall semester of senior year should be fun, but I have yet to meet a senior having much fun. Instead, we are exhausted as we adjust back to over-commitment and try to avoid thinking about what life might look like after graduation. The future no longer seems exciting; it is daunting.
During New Student Orientation, I found myself misty-eyed seeing groups of first-years sitting together across campus at night. Eating outside in huge, socially distanced circles was the primary way to socialize during my first few weeks at St. Olaf. Now, I only have a few more months to hang out with the friends I made during the awkward masked meals and meandering walks through the then-unfamiliar natural lands that marked my first weeks on campus.
The leaves changing color makes me feel weird and nostalgic. Seasons never go to plan in Northfield. My first year, it snowed on Oct. 16. I thought it might snow forever and I was cursed for going to school in Minnesota, but it melted within a few days. Red, orange, and yellow leaves make me think of past falls, the fact that I have no more here, and how fast the summer went. I lived in the moment but it still feels like I’ve missed something. It feels like I fell asleep one day as a fresh-faced first year and woke up now to find that I’ve aged only to have been left with the memories of the past few years.
I answer people’s questions about going here a lot. New students and people who know less about the vast bureaucracy of our lovely college ask me detailed questions. I can answer these, but I struggle to summarize my time here. What has happened? I jump to the craziest stories I remember and forget to mention the mundane, the days after days of staying in Stav too long and reading more than I can comprehend. My friends from home are still determining if St. Olaf is real.
My patience with this place, this school full of complicated connections and too many people I know, is growing thin. I watch first-years attend events in droves as I go to bed early. Grouchy isn’t the word I’d used to describe myself, but I certainly am settled, seasoned to the Hill. It’s growing harder to remember when I was unsure where Regents 150 was or when I had yet to decide on my major. Despite this, I continue to meet new people and experience new things on the Hill I know so well — every day is a chance to learn something new.
To all first-year students, I hope that you treasure these days when everything is new. To my fellow seniors, remember there is still time here. There is no point in wishing away the time or wishing to slow it down. Time progresses, as do we.
Caroline Geer is from Northville, Mich. Her majors are Sociology/Anthropology and Race and Ethnic Studies.