On Going to Graduate School At Your Alma Mater
May 15th, 2013 was the day that everything changed. I had gotten into my dream school off of the waitlist. It was the school where my parents met, my grandparents taught, and where I had spent a lot of Saturdays watching football games at Alumni Stadium when I was growing up. It took about five minutes for me to officially decide to attend Boston College once I received that acceptance letter.
I loved what Boston College taught me. I knew that I would carry what I learned with me and that I would keep in touch with the people that mattered most.
Flash forward to a year and a half after undergrad graduation and now I’m back on campus to begin the first day of my Master’s program at Boston College: I am a little nervous because I have no idea if graduate school will be as fulfilling as my undergraduate career and that scares me.
I’m going back to a place where so many memories have already been made. I’m afraid of change and afraid of beginning this new journey without the people who made this place my home. I’m afraid that this new experience will be completely different than the original one.
So I take the long route to class, reminiscing on the moments that made those undergrad years so special to me.
I walk past the dorm where my friends and I got ready for commencement ball.
I walk through the Mods, where so many football tailgates and marathon Monday celebrations took place.
I walk past the dining hall where so many late night conversations took place over mozzarella sticks and fries. I walk toward my old dorm rooms and look up at where the windows are to see if they’ve added more decorations since I moved out.
I walk through the library and think about all of the study sessions I had there. I walk past my old office and remember all of the times my dad would bring me a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee at work. I walk through the quad, stare up at the most iconic building and think of all the wonderful people I would run into while going to class or a club meeting.
Then I walk into a cafe where my friends and I would grab a casual lunch and “study” (but basically just chat in between classes).
I walk to the bookstore to grab a notebook for class, and remember when I was walking through that store during the freshman orientation, trying to fill my closet with BC gear.
The memories from my undergrad time at Boston College are everywhere, and I wonder if I’ll go through my grad school years always nostalgic for those past years.
A few months into my first semester of grad school, I went on a retreat with fellow first-year BC graduate students—it was the same retreat center that I went to during my freshman year of college.
The grad school retreat involved discussing the first few months of the graduate school experience and planning for what is to come, through deep conversations with other first year graduate students and mentors. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to remember the importance of reflection and thinking introspectively. I reflected on where I was when I was in that room five years prior as an 18-year-old undergrad and how much I’ve grown since then.
When I sat in this same room five years ago, I was only a few months into my freshman year and I attended a retreat with roughly 150 strangers. This was the first opportunity for me to practice being vulnerable in a safe environment. It was scary. How was I supposed to work up the courage to share my deepest stories with people who I had just met an hour ago?
Now, five years later, as I attend this graduate school retreat, I feel so much more comfortable sharing my stories with strangers. I’ve realized over the years that opening up and being genuine is the key to maintaining and creating fulfilling relationships. Thanks to my undergrad years, I’ve learned that being myself is the key to leading a fulfilling and successful life because those who love and appreciate the real me are the only people who truly matter.
Not everyone in my program understands what it means to be a Boston College undergraduate, but they can all understand how special of a place Boston College is. It’s that common understanding and appreciation that reminds me of why I fell in love with this place six years ago.
This first year of graduate school has reaffirmed my vocation, reminded me of my love for this university, and has allowed me to create new deep and personal relationships with colleagues in the same field, and I’m looking forward to what’s to come.
During my undergrad years, Boston College gave me the matches to set the world aflame, and now in graduate school, I’m starting my own fire and finding my way.
It’s time to create new memories at this place without overwriting the old ones.
Windrose Magazine is your guide to navigating life in your twenties through a collection of essays, interviews, and advice that will inspire you to chart your own life course, free of comparison.
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