You just never know…
The clouds covered the morning sky, and fog blanketed the grounds of UW-Madison. The morning air was crisp as I made my way to the Social Sciences building for my 8:00 a.m. class. Campus was slowly starting to awaken, and. as I stood at the bottom of Bascom Hill, instead of focusing on how it continually reminds me of my inadequate physical endurance, I thought about the beauty that my campus, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, holds. As I made my trek up Bascom Hill on the morning of March 11, 2020, little did I know it would be my last walk and in-person class for both my remaining freshman and sophomore years.
Coming from a small town in Wisconsin, I was excited, ambitious, curious, and hopeful entering my freshman year at UW-Madison.
Only moments after moving into my dorm. I found that there truly is no shortage of activities or events to participate in. By the beginning of September, I had begun my journey of finding what I was passionate about. I attended the organization fair with my roommate and friends and easily found several clubs to join. A little later I joined my peers in the student section of the UW football games. As a Wisconsin native, Badger football games hold not only some of my favorite childhood memories, but also some of my favorite college memories as well. There is nothing better than the classic student chants, letter race, jump around tradition, or, my personal favorite, singing “Build Me Up, Buttercup” with the entire stadium.
I also fell in love with the iconic Dane County Farmers’ Market. I loved being able to walk from my dorm, Ogg, with my roommate and buy fresh flowers and sweets. The atmosphere, friendly people and, of course, the beautiful setting of the capitol made this event one of my favorite fall activities to do in Madison.
That first semester, I quickly discovered that there was no better place to enjoy my lunch in between classes, get homework done, and relax than on the Memorial Union Terrace. Colorful sunburst chairs across the Terrace and picturesque Lake Mendota made this both one of my favorite study and procrastination spots, and it remains so today.
As fall came to an end and the oh so loved Wisconsin winter approached, I was lucky to hear about the amazing and unique experiences offered by the Hoofers clubs, which are based out of Memorial Union. There, I was able to learn about the various ski, snowboard, and scuba trips offered by the clubs, ranging from local trips to Tyrol Basin or travelling to Colorado to ski and snowboard in the mountains. Early on, I felt confident in the knowledge that no matter my interests, UW-Madison had many opportunities for me to connect and get involved within my university.
My freshman year journey changed abruptly going into spring 2020. Now, as a student who has never experienced an in-person spring semester in Madison, I look forward to the excitement of the Wisconsin Union’s Terrace chairs emerging from a long hibernation, I look forward to the freeing feeling of no longer needing to wear a parka to class, and I look forward to being able to fully embrace my campus and university and all it offers.
I have learned it is important to remember, acknowledge and enjoy the little things that often get overlooked. I will never again take for granted the opportunity to walk to class and see my peers all around me, nor overlook the ability to speak to and ask questions of my professors face to face. The amount of new people you are able to meet and become friends with through your classes is incredible – my freshman year I even met one of my sophomore year roommates through my calculus class. This year, for me, will be about taking the time to appreciate the things I took for granted, like walking through campus and taking full advantage of the new and returning opportunities, such as Badger game days and the Dane County Farmers’ Market.
I often get asked the question, “Are you excited to return to in-person classes?” My answer is always a resounding, “Yes”. Whether thinking back to my “normal” in-person experience that first semester of freshman year or recalling the timeframe when I was able to make the many State Street coffee houses my classroom, UW-Madison has never failed to make my experience uniquely memorable and enjoyable. So what’s my advice to incoming freshmen, sophomores, and juniors? Take full advantage of all the great clubs, organizations, and activities that our beautiful campus offers, both inside and outside of the classroom. You just never know…