The U.Va. experience is one that stays with you forever. I don’t just say that as a recent U.Va. grad, but as a grad who has returned to Grounds to pursue a graduate degree here — a double Wahoo. In all honesty, I moved back to Charlottesville in August thinking I was going to experience two more years of the first three and a half I spend as an undergraduate. I could not have been more incorrect. Graduate school is the most intense academic experience I have ever had. As an English major in undergrad, I found my courses interesting and certainly challenging, but I was comfortable. I was involved in extracurriculars and student leadership but my schedule was of my choosing. To be fair, I wasn’t in the shallow end, but I definitely had floaties on. Sometime between December 2014 and August 2015, someone let the air out of my floaties. In undergrad my network was diverse but my group of close friends were somewhat homogeneous — from similar backgrounds and interests as myself. Now, I am surrounded by people who are similar in that they are intelligent, passionate and lovely, but they bring so many different, rich life experiences. My classmates come from years in the working world, or the military, or from years spent building a family. I have benefitted from getting to know their stories more every day. Every day I am working my heart out. But I think fellow grad students would agree, sanity comes from remembering that it’s okay to take a night off and camp at a table at the Virginian with friends for a couple of hours. It’s all about finding your balance. Life as a post grad is not the same as undergrad, and it’s not better or worse. It’s just different. And that’s how life works sometimes — it just changes. If I have learned one thing from my transition after graduating from UVA, it’s that change is a good thing. Because unless you take the floaties off, you’re never going to learn how to swim.