Avoiding list-icles is a must for most aspiring writers, seeing as they are more Buzzfeed and less New York Times-worthy than we would like most of our work to be. But this one is called for.
During a chat with fellow seniors this past weekend, we talked nostalgically, as everyone tends to do when the days to graduation can be counted down by double digits. Our campus is not the same as it was this time three and a half years ago – for better or worse – but you may know you were a freshman in fall 2010 if:
1) You hated saying farewell to the Pedestrian Bridge after having it for two whole years of our undergraduate career. Sometimes you fondly look back and remember how when turning the sharp corners around Haslam you would almost run into people (especially bikers), or how you could look down from the top and yell at friends below. The patio area was pretty sketchy looking, but if you were ever running late to a meeting in the UC, you could totally count on the back entrance to help you out.
2) Sophie's – in Strong Hall beside Clement for you youngsters – was your favorite lunch and dinner spot. They had the best chicken wings and sweet tea, while also being the go-to spot when you needed something a little more wholesome than what the UC had to offer between classes. Southern Kitchen was only a weak replacement.
3) You were super pumped about Derek Dooley. The remnants of burned mattresses from the Lane Kiffin era could still be smelled in the air. Hope was still eternal. Plus football games at this level were whole new territory and entertaining no matter if we won or lost.
4) Volapalooza was cool, because it was hosted on the intramural fields outside and thus directly across from your dorms, and because GirlTalk was awesome and threw glitter down from the sky.
5) Welcome Leaders did not exist so Welcome Week was reduced to fight or flight for the 7,000 new freshies. If you braved the Pres Court video dance party and Matisyahu concert, then you had survived your first round of the UT Hunger Games for freshmen.
6) Speaking of Presidential Court, you literally lived and breathed for IHOP in the early mornings coming back from your nights out. They had your back, whether it was through mozzarella sticks, or seasoned fries and milkshakes, or even with good old fashioned pancakes.
7) You could take 12 hours and not pay for 15. You also don't know what the heck being a uTrack student means, because myUTK clearly tells you, you are not one. Nor will you probably take the time to figure out what it means. Good luck y'all.
8) Construction was at an all-time high for the four years that you spent here. Enough said.
9) You went to the Student Health Center when it was the tiny building crammed in between Clarence Brown Theatre and Tom Black Track and had only two waiting room chairs. The waiting rooms might have expanded, but that wait time hasn't. Some things never change.
10) You remember being vaguely terrified when they talked about moving the Rock from its spot across the street where the new Student Health Center now proudly sits to its current location. You imagined the crane dropping, and the unregulated form of student expression being dashed to tiny pebbles. But it survived, and its everlasting paint layers continue to accumulate.
11) The long trek home to Presidential Court was uninterrupted by construction and crossing roads. You could start at the beginning of Pedestrian by Hodges and walk in a straight line all the way down to your respective dorm. The herd of freshmen cattle were all hearing the sounds of the dinner bell at the same time and the sidewalk space was where you were all reunited after being in class all day.
12) What you remember the most is just being here; through the evolution of campus buildings; the butt-chugging scandal; the arrival of the first ever Sex Week; the retirement of the winning-est women's basketball coach in history. It's never going to be the same place where you had the SGA campaigns, the papers put off til the night before, or ran around the Strip on the endless weekends. But no matter how much our alma mater changes, I suspect when you come back, if you close your eyes hard enough and imagine the smell and sound and feel of that fall 2010 air, a piece of it will still be there – even when you have moved on past the stately walls of old UT.
Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.