For seniors, leaving Athens can truly be the biggest heartbreak of all time. While we have a lot to be proud of during the past four years, the final weeks before graduation are the most bittersweet, as the end of this chapter comes near.
Rightfully so, it’s OK to be sad about leaving college and all the things you’ve been so familiar with the past four years. It’s soul-crushing just knowing that your best friends won’t be just a walk down the street, that Sundays are now for productivity and not for rotting and recovery after a long weekend, that you won’t be able to just walk down Court Street and see everyone you know and that you’ll be leaving all the places that you’ve grown to love so dearly.
While this chapter is coming to a close quickly, it’s time to soak up every second you have left in our little college town. Make the most of it by revisiting some places that you may not have seen since you were an underclassman, take frequent walks through College Green, eat at your favorite Athens food spot more than usual, go out with your friends as much as possible and just bask in all the nonsense opportunities that will be gone soon.
If you’re trying to make the most of the final countdown to graduation, here are five things you should do before leaving OU:
Listen to “I’ll Always Remember You” by Hannah Montana and cry with your best friends
This one truly pulls on the heartstrings. If you’re trying to get in your feels and cry your eyes out, this track will do just that. “I’ll Always Remember You” is the song that always plays during the final month of school in the bars because it forces everyone to remember to be grateful for the special people they’ve met. “But yesterday's gone / We gotta keep moving on / I'm so thankful for the moments / So glad I got to know you” are the quintessential graduation lyrics that you don’t truly feel the weight of until you're a senior and about to leave all of your friends.
The only correct way of listening to this song is on full volume, on top of an elevated surface, holding your friends super, super close and bawling your eyes out. If you’re feeling particularly down during this past week, don’t worry: Hannah Montana and this track will hold your hand through it.
Visit your old dorm halls
Seriously, it’s so important to go back to your roots during this time. The best way to do so is by taking a stroll down to your old dorms on South Green, West Green or East Green. We know you haven’t been there in a while.
You’ll be so surprised at just how many memories will come racing back to you that you may have forgotten about. Not only is this a great moment to reflect on how young and naive you once were, but it’s also a good way to tap into the other half of your experience here that shaped the person you are today. Think about all the small moments that ended up changing your life so much in the long run, the heartbreaks that crippled you over people who you don’t even think twice about now and the hard moments that all worked out in the end.
When you have a free day this week, take some time for yourself, and head to your old dorms to jog your memory a little on all you have to remember.
Walk through College Green
After you leave college, it will never feel the same walking through College Green once you return. Whether you visit on a random weekend or for Homecoming, you’ll be now walking through it as an alum and no longer as a student. Trust us, that will be a shock to your system when that time does come in the future. Soak up the feeling of being a student, this still being your campus, still being able to see all of your other friends walking to class through College Green.
The Alumni Gateway, a gift of the class of 1915, is especially significant during your departure. The quotation on the front entrance is meant to speak to you as you begin your time here saying, “So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge, wisdom and love." The opposite side is meant to speak to you as you end your time here saying, “So depart that daily thou mayest better serve thy fellowmen thy country and thy God." Make sure you enter one last time as a student before departing as an alum.
It’s certainly a beautiful place that is taken for granted while we are in school here but something you’ll wish you spent more time appreciating.
Have your favorite Athens food as your last supper
When it comes to food, Athens truly has its fair share of hidden gems. After four years, we all know the restaurants that we hold close to our hearts and maybe buy multiple times a week. The unfortunate part is after you graduate, when you’re only able to eat it once or twice a year when you return to campus. For the last week, try to hit all your favorite local spots that you're dreading leaving behind. Grab one of your last sandwiches from Brenen’s in between classes, gather up your friends for one last hangover brunch after a long night at Hangover Easy and make sure to have one last greasy slice of Courtside Pizza.
For your last supper before the madness of graduation, make sure to have your last supper at your all-time favorite restaurant or takeout place. Make sure to do so before the crowd of parents and families makes their descent on the city.
While the sadness is bound to take over, remember that it’s a good thing in retrospect. It’s important to be happy that your time here was so well spent that it’s making it so difficult to leave all that you’ve built here.
The people are what makes OU the easiest place to love and, eventually, the hardest of goodbyes. Athens, we love you.