University Is Much More Than A Degree
6 Months after graduation I was hurrying down a street. The Aegean sea was on my right and the white tower of Thessaloniki, my destination, was in front of me. I slowed and began scanning the park, for a friend that I had said good bye to in Edinburgh before I had returned to the states. There he was relaxing on a low wall in the park. It was slightly surreal seeing a familiar face and talking with an old friend thousands of miles from where we had last parted ways.
It’s odd seeing people in their natural habitat or a new location. We seem to identify people with the locations and circumstances we met them in, but you often see them differently in the light of a new context. It’s not necessarily that they’ve changed, but the new location makes us look at them again. We pick up on new facets of their personality that are brought to light by the change of scenery and situation. You begin to gain a fuller picture of them, their opinions, and where both are coming from. Each friend from a different country or background brings to the table a different way of seeing the world, not right or wrong, but different and valuable. Seeing them in these new situations, especially where they grew up, helps explain more fully their perspectives and world views. It helps explain what makes them who they are.
The train went rattling along on it’s way from Oxford to London. My plan to wander a bit until my friend, who I’d be staying with, got back into the city. Then my phone vibrated. ‘Heya, we heard you’re going to be in London tonight. We should meet up for a drink.’ I got off the tube at Regents Park and began looking, trying to figure out what direction they’d be coming from. A few minutes later I saw them come round the corner and wave. I was hard to miss with my frame pack on. My relaxed afternoon in London quickly turned into a pub crawl, dinner, and a mini university reunion with great friends. I found my self thinking that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to people like me from small towns in New Hampshire.
New Hampshirites, for the most part, don’t pop into London for a night and see friends or have a morning coffee with a friend on a two day stop in Greece. Not only had I gained new perspectives in my time at university, but also a new community with new opportunities to learn and grow. The world has turned from a map of coloured shapes and political history into a colleague of friends’ faces, new perspectives, and new opportunities. Your time at university can be much more then a degree. My friends at university changed the way I see the world and taught me lessons that can‘t be learned in a lecture hall.