education / modernity

New Beginnings

The start of the year always stirs up vague emotions of nostalgia and fellow-feeling in me. It helps that the University of Chicago looks like it was designed by the gleeful envisioner of college campus catalogs–all towering trees and gothic architecture, sprinkled with smoking, coffee-clutching hipsters.

But beyond the warm fuzzies stirred up by standing in line at the bookstore or seeing my sorority sisters again, en masse, I also feel a strange sense of impending loss as soon as the leaves start to turn. I wonder if humans share a universal tendency to turn away from full enjoyment of the present moment in favor of using their unique powers of foresight to mourn the coming changes of the future. Every time I open the doors of Cobb Hall to attend my classes on seduction and reality TV (this is what being an English major entails, among other things), I think about how strange it will be to leave this campus. To suddenly be cut off from the daily sights that will have made up my life for four years (and no more, God willing).

What will the people around me miss about this experience, if anything? I think that college is the only time of our lives when, wherever we go within this tense, scholarly universe of quads and classrooms, we will automatically be connected to the strangers around us. Walking through the campus brushes us against a hundred other lives uncoiling on a similar track, a hundred other hearts beating to the same rhythm of eleven-week quarter schedules. Give or take.

It’s a beautiful thing, I think.

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