During the first term of my last year at UBC, I was incredibly excited to be done my degree. I felt like it was time for me to move on and experience new things.
But then, as the second term started to roll on, new feelings started to pop up. All of a sudden, UBC seemed caked in ooey-gooey nostalgia, every building glowing with the knowledge that I would probably would never study here again.
I started to feel caught in between my student life and the “adult” world that was beckoning on the other side. It’s one of those strange, overwhelming sensations of transition you get only a limited number of times in life, like when you move cities or decide you’re going to dramatically dye your hair white-blond.
So, how do you balance these strange, mixed feelings of nostalgia, sadness, and excitement to move on? It all comes down to saying your proper goodbyes.
Take time for the people and places that matter
One of the toughest parts of coming to the end of your undergrad is that you and your friends might go off to pursue opportunities in other places. This doesn’t mean that your friendship is ending, but it does mean you might not see each other for a while.
Make sure you spend time with people who are moving away, or who you could be moving away from. Whether that’s simply squeezing a coffee in or going camping for the weekend, enjoy the time you have with one another.
The people I’ve spent time with at university have really defined my experience here. If you’re anything like me, it’ll help your transition to acknowledge that you may be leaving each other and to set up a good foundation for your future friendship.
Almost as much as the people, the spaces you interacted with at UBC can be important as well. I went to my favourite study spot in Koerner Library before my last exam, and it was bittersweet to know that it was the last time I would be reviewing material there.
We all find our special spots at UBC, and they can mean a lot to us—we spend a lot of time here! Go back to your favourite desk, cafe, or nap spot and reflect a little.
These are more than just people and places—these relationships and spots probably helped you figure out who “you” are.
Finish your UBC bucket list
If there’s anything you’ve always wanted to do here and haven’t, even if that’s braving the tempestuous waters of Pit Night, now is the time! The expiration on your UBCcard is fast approaching, and you won’t get the perks of being a student forever.
The campus will always be here for you to come home to, but you won’t be an undergrad student here again. It’ll be easier to say goodbye if you’ve done everything you wanted to do—whether that’s one more sunset at Wreck, submitting to a student journal, or trying whatever it is that happens on those stretchy tightrope things between the trees of the Bosque.
Take stock of your time here
When things are ending, our perception of them tends to get a little warped. You may be feeling nostalgic, wishing that university never had to end while you reminisce about all the amazing times you had here. You might feel eager to move on, ready to let go of this chapter and start the next. Or you might fall somewhere in the middle.
However you’re feeling, it’s valuable to honestly assess the past 4+ years and think about what you learned, how you grew, and your experiences—both good and tough. When I’m leaving somewhere, I focus on all the good times I had and kind of forget about the ones that were harder.
The truth is, there are good days and hard days behind you and good days and hard days ahead. Hopefully, there will be many more good days than hard ones, but it’s worth it to think about the challenges that university brought and how you dealt with them. How can you apply the lessons you learned as you move forward?
It’s okay to feel conflicted
Whether you have your life after university all set up or you’re still figuring things out, it’s weird to know that this huge part of your life is ending. Saying my goodbyes and reflecting on my time, all the highs and the lows, helped give me some closure and made it all feel more real.
This adventure may be ending, but there’s another one right around the corner. It’s okay to feel both sad and excited at the same time. Remember that, even though you may feel like you’re supposed to be an “adult” now, you don’t have to do it alone. Ask for advice or help from the people you respect, whether that’s friends, family, professors, or colleagues.
You may be graduating, but you’ll always have a home at UBC!
Header Photo Credit: Martin Dee / UBC Brand & Marketing