Enjoy the Valley as graduation approaches

By Allie Connell

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In the past three months, the question I’ve been asked more than any other is: what happens after May 10th? I’ve been known to answer with such avoidant quips as “I don’t know May 11th?” and “time for you to get a new question.” More often than not, the speaker will take those responses for what they are: an attempt to bring an air of comedy to a subject matter that only instills fear and horror in my heart.

What we, graduating seniors, should be asking ourselves is: what happens before May 10th? With all of the pressure to have a plan and be ready to flap our wings and fly into the world of adulthood, we lose the opportunity to savor our final days at an institution we’ve given a solid portion of our young lives.

Seeing the tour groups on campus is a gentle reminder that in the not too distant past, we were getting dragged around campus buildings and dormitories that, in the moment, meant nothing. “The windows were larger at DePaul,” or “I’m pretty sure Cincinnati had a Taco Bell on campus,” you’d think to yourself, unaware that these places you were casually walking through would end up holding some of your favorite memories.

Now, however, is no time to get nostalgic. With about twenty days until graduation, it’s time to honor your time in the Pioneer Valley. In a bout of carpe diem, I implore you graduating seniors to dust off the list of “100 things to do before you graduate from the University of Massachusetts” that was given to you in your freshman year dorm. Laugh at the items on said list and then make up 100 things that you need to do before the apocalyptic day of May 10th descends upon us.

The items on your list should range from attempting to recreate hazy memories from freshman year to simply walking into a building on campus you only recently realized existed. Here’s to looking at you, engineering buildings I swear weren’t there last week. With all of the fine dining establishments on campus, you would be remiss to not eat at every single one of them before your magical meal swipe privileges are ripped from you. Wait in line for stir-fry at Franklin Dining Commons for once, what do you have to lose but an hour?

Don’t limit yourself to just activities on the UMass campus or nearby Amherst Center. Take a road trip into the heart of the Pioneer Valley and see all of the magnificent landmarks the valley has to offer. After all, you might never be here again. For example, did you know that there is a Buddhist Peace Pagoda on the top of a mountain in Leverett, Massachusetts? Have you ever been to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls? If you have a car, drive around in this beautiful spring weather and you won’t believe what could be in the next town over.

When making your list, the most important activities are those done with friends. Lives change after graduating college; people you’ve lived next to for four years could suddenly be moving across the country. These last twenty days should be spent savoring experiences with the people you’ve come to call your best friends at UMass or your freshman year roommate who you haven’t seen in years. The things on this list should encourage you to see people, to make memories that’ll last you until you get to cross paths with these friends again, to do something that you’ll all look back on and say: “Well, it was college, so it was still socially acceptable.”

So I’ll ask you the question you should be asking yourself when your mother calls in a panic about graduation day: What is going to happen before May 10th? What memories are you going to make in the next 20 days to honor your time at UMass?

Allie Connell is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]