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Top 10 reflections from fall semester

A collection of my thoughts — big and small — about the fall semester.

Emerging on the other side of a difficult semester, it is clear that the University is a uniquely strong community.
Emerging on the other side of a difficult semester, it is clear that the University is a uniquely strong community.

As the semester comes to a close, I hope you take time to reflect on all of your accomplishments — simply reaching the finish line is a major win. After completing the fall semester of my second year at the University, I have curated a list of my 10 most pressing takeaways.

1. There actually are some positives to dorm-life 

This is a shocking revelation and one that I am hesitant to even admit—I assumed breaking free from the confines of my first-year dorm would be amazing. Nevertheless, after a semester full of dealing with a long list of maintenance issues at my off-Grounds apartment, I cannot help but reminisce on the days where I was not calling an exterminator every week or dealing with random power-outages at the most inopportune times. Dorm-life obviously has its own set of challenges, but living in an apartment off Grounds brings its own host of challenges, too — something I did not fully anticipate. 

2. Medieval literature is not my vibe

When did admitting you had adverse feelings towards a time period in literature become a crime? I think having the confidence to proclaim with conviction that you do not enjoy a piece of literature — after reading it and giving it a fair chance, of course — is one of the best feelings. I have spent a large portion of the fall semester exploring pieces of literature like “Beowulf,” “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” Although I learned a lot from this semester, I have no shame in saying that these are not my favorite pieces of literature. 

3. Grit Coffee opening in Nau Hall was a cultural reset 

Admittedly, I had some apprehensions about Grit replacing Starbucks in Nau Hall. I love Grit Coffee, but it was always a special treat for me that I would venture out to the Corner to enjoy. I felt that if I had immediate access to it within an academic building it would lose its value to me. Fear not — I could not have been more wrong. Sipping an iced coffee in-between lectures quickly became a highlight, and perhaps even a sacred ritual within my daily life this past semester. 

4. 8 a.m. Friday discussion sections are not too bad

Whenever I told someone I had an 8 a.m. discussion on Fridays, I was typically met with a wave of horror. Part of me savored the fact that so many people would run away from an 8 a.m. on Fridays — it made me feel heroic in my own small way. However, the truth is, the 8 a.m. was never too bad. Of course, I despised getting out of bed — but I despise exiting my warm cocoon of a bed every morning regardless of the time. I loved feeling so accomplished early in the morning and having the rest of my Friday to myself. 

5. I will never tire of Chipotle 

There was a stretch during this semester where I would somehow find myself at Chipotle nearly each Saturday.  Blame it on the stress of the school year. Blame it on not wanting to eat the food already in my fridge. Or, blame it on the indescribable feeling of joy I receive from dipping that first lime-flavored tortilla chip into the guacamole. One thing is for sure — I think I could dive into a burrito bowl each day for the rest of my life and never complain. 

6. Always go to office hours

I think this is the singular most popular piece of advice you receive before starting college, and frankly, I think it is annoying. However, there has never been an occasion where I regretted going to office hours, so I suppose I will join in the chorus of people urging you to go to office hours. Sometimes I dreaded going to office hours this semester — it seemed like the last thing I wanted to add to my calendar on a cold day — but I always left office hours feeling more connected to my professors, teaching assistants and courses. 

7. Finding time to sleep is important

Finishing all of your work by 8 p.m. isn’t realistic, but it doesn’t mean you should constantly find yourself with only a few hours of sleep every night. Staying up incredibly late does not necessarily mean you’ll be a stronger student, so I strongly encourage you to allow yourself to rest and recharge. To my fellow lovers of an early bedtime and a good book — I see you, and I applaud you for daring to exist in this world where sleep is attached with guilt. 

8. Retail therapy is a valid way of coping with stress

This is definitely not to say that retail therapy is the only way to feel better when you are having a tough time — that could not be further from the truth. However, buying yourself a tiny treat here and there can be a great strategy for rewarding yourself for getting through a tough week. Personally, roaming the aisles of Target on a Friday afternoon is an ideal way for me to cap off a stressful week. 

9. I love 18th century novels authored by women 

This semester I was enrolled in an English course titled “18th Century Women Writers.” I was initially a little nervous for this course, but I absolutely adored it. I have always loved to read, but I was unsure if this would transfer over into 18th century plays like “The Basset Table” or novels like Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey.”  Now, I cannot wait to read more of Jane Austen’s novels simply for fun. 

10. The University community is incredibly resilient 

Emerging on the other side of a difficult semester, it is clear that the University is a uniquely strong community. As we all continue to mourn the Nov. 13 shooting and the deaths of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis and D’Sean Perry, feeling the support from fellow students, professors and the Charlottesville community has reminded me of how lucky I am to be a member of the University community. Together we are and continue to remain “U.Va. Strong.”