Watters: End of Spring Quarter signifies change, uncertainty


Arabella Watters, Columnist

The end of the quarter is bittersweet.

I remember this time last year vaguely. Spring Quarter was lost in an exhilarating blur of sunshine, grass, afternoons on the Lakefill and the enjoyment of Northwestern in an entirely new light. There was sunlight and warmth for the first time, and as a freshman I was completely caught up in the indulgent freedom of being young and relatively without obligation. High school was far enough away that I felt starkly grown up, but it was still close enough that coming home didn’t feel stifling.

I specifically remember one night I spent on the Lakefill with my friends, the air hot and muggy, clinging to my arms. The sky was that delirious orange, the familiar glow from Chicago drifting, inking the stars into one another. I laid in the grass and thought about the glory of the last nine months. There was nothing but time stretching languidly in front of me and instead of being daunting, that expansiveness felt freeing. The summer would drift by slowly and then I’d return to Northwestern in the fall. Experience brings certainty, and the fact that I had survived freshman year brought that certainty.

Fast forward a whole year, and things are just slightly different. I say slightly because I’m still the same person who I was, except time doesn’t have that luxurious dilated feeling any longer. Instead of watching the end of the quarter fade into summer, I’m watching the quarter end without the hope of seeing Northwestern in the fall, I’m looking at a long six months without being here. Six months and then I’ll be here for all of 10 weeks. Thank you, Medill, for scheduling my Journalism Residency in my same year as when I’ll be studying abroad. I’ll surpass the bitterness because it’s not really worth it. I’ll be here for 10 weeks next year. Ten weeks of snow, ice, pain, misery, angst. OK, maybe I hyperbolize just a little bit, but it’s safe to say that Winter Quarter is most definitely nobody’s favorite. Regardless, it’s odd to contemplate my next year without Northwestern as really part of the equation.

Growing up is odd that way; nothing really ever stays the same. From this point in our lives, change is basically inevitable. This next year will pass by in a beautiful, chaotic whirlwind of experience, memories, fear and elation, and then I’ll be back at school where I’ll have one last year of glory until the real world happens. I don’t really like it, but I realize that it’s part of what we have come to terms with as we get older. The fact is that things aren’t segmented in the neat little boxes they used to be in when we were kids, even during that summer before college or freshman year. Being halfway done with college kind of throws into perspective the ephemeral nature of our time in this halfway, peaceful limbo. Northwestern is my home in a way that I could never have fathomed would be possible two years ago. Places grow on us and we grow into them, just as people come into our lives, shifting and shaping who we are with poignant subtly.

I’m prone to this kind of existential musing. All this sunshine might just be going straight to my head, but the quarter ticking down is more than the end of the springtime. It’s a halfway point that I really don’t find very much excitement in reaching. Sorry, real world, things are pretty sweet over here, just the way they are.

Arabella Watters is a Medill sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].