To acquire wisdom, one must observe

I’m not complaining for once! (well, maybe a little bit)

I didn’t realize 1,321 days ago, when I first emailed an editor at The Hoot, that nearly four years later I would have to be writing them a final article. As I begin to write, I feel the anxiety rising in me. I don’t like reflecting on my past or addressing that something is coming to an end. And, to quote “The Queen is Dead” by Cokie the Clown, “I think I’m just starting to grieve by writing down these words …”

It is sad to be leaving. To leave The Hoot, Brandeis, my house on South Street and the East Coast. It’s stressful and scary and almost equally exciting. I keep assuring myself that no good movies take place in college, so whatever comes next must be more interesting. But it sucks to leave my home, and even more so, it sucks to leave the people who make this campus home. 

I am proud of the things I’ve achieved since arriving here in 2020. I started college at a horrible time. The stress and isolation of moving into college, combined with the stress and isolation of the early pandemic, made for an occasionally miserable first few months. But things improved—a lot. Largely thanks to the people I met during those first months (including my original editors at The Hoot). And in the years since, I have gotten so many incredible opportunities through this school.

From spending a semester abroad in one of the best cities in the world, to interviewing a handful of my literal heroes, I have also attended lectures and discussions that reframed the world for me. I’ve spent countless hours with a small group of very special people I hope to never fall out of contact with. And I just kept growing—being pushed or pushing myself to try new things and work a little harder. I am, in many ways, a new and better person as a result of my time at Brandeis. 

I spent years as a mediocre, dispassionate student. I dreaded my drive to school, never finished my homework and just didn’t do very much. At Brandeis, that changed. I was finally allowed to take classes that interested me, taught by engaging and excited professors, and suddenly I love academia. I love writing essays, reading dozens of pages on politics or legal studies and listening to long, complex lectures. I have even begun to like raising my hand in class, even though my hand still shakes whenever I do. 

And it has been so helpful to have supportive, smart people around me the whole time. Roommates who listen to my endless barrage of fun facts about Russia or Dante’s “Inferno,” professors who not only accept but encourage essays written about the history of folk punk or my fascination with the Intellectual Dark Web and a newspaper happy to accept my 100th review of a just-OK slasher. My interests veer towards weird and off-putting, and at Brandeis I can be proud of that. 

I am extremely proud of the work I did for The Hoot (the best paper on campus). I really could not have asked for a better group to end my time here with. The first year and a half I wrote for this paper, my only connection to any editor or writer was through short weekly email exchanges. In these past three semesters, I have gotten to know and work alongside a lovely and extremely competent group of editors who impress me every week with their dedication to this newspaper. Writing for The Hoot has been one of my most treasured experiences at Brandeis. I doubt I will miss any singular aspect of college like I will miss writing my weekly reviews. 

This reflection would be insincere if I didn’t mention the failings of Brandeis that have become apparent to me this year—from hearing first-hand accounts of poor worker treatment to the unforgettable, unforgivable police violence that unfolded a few feet away from me last November. It feels unsatisfying to graduate at a moment when none of these massive campus issues have been resolved. But what I can take away from the current situation is that, no matter what the administration is up to, and no matter how many plain-clothes cops are still hiding around campus, the Brandeis community, the student body and the campus workers are resilient and make this school a wonderful place to live and learn.

I know I won’t ever feel ready to leave. My brain has this lovely ability to romanticize whatever situation I am currently settled into so that I overlook its flaws, and I get really melancholy and stressed at the prospect of leaving. But, after 30 more pages of essay, I will have fulfilled the requirements of my degree and have to go. There’s a job waiting for me in San Francisco. Thank you all for reading!

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