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Dear U of T, I bid thee farewell — even if it’s not the way I imagined

Reflections from a journalist at the end of an undergraduate degree
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MIA CARNEVALE/THE VARSITY
MIA CARNEVALE/THE VARSITY

As I sat down to write this piece — my final article for The Varsity — I wondered what I could say about this university that hasn’t already been said. How was my story any different, any less tumultuous than that of any other student?

I came to this university four years ago as a scared first-year student lugging a suitcase of expectations and dreams behind her, smiling sheepishly with braces, ready to bite into the fruit of so-called adulthood. I can barely comprehend that it’s already time to graduate.

I was the first in my family to go to university overseas, like many other students I’m sure. Leaving the comfort of home and familiarity behind was difficult, but I was so excited to be independent and to discover myself that it rarely mattered.

Before I knew it, I had immersed myself in university life. Classes, assignments, and extracurriculars became a routine. Friends became family; study sessions ended up in late-night dinners, and, unbeknownst to me, U of T became my home. 

It was at U of T that I made lifelong friendships, reconnected with old friends, and met my roommate and best friend. I fell in love here, and also learned that life isn’t always as you imagine it to be.

I got the chance to learn from some of the smartest and accomplished professors in the world. I failed and learned to stand back up, and even stumbled a little here and there. The nights I spent at Robarts Library will always be etched in my heart; it was often comforting — and even a little funny — to look around at midnight and see everyone in the same hellhole as I was.

The food truck in front of Sidney Smith Hall, Friday nights at the Ein-stein Bierhalle, and laughing in the residence halls at early morning hours are some of the things that I’m never going to forget. 

But more than anything else, U of T has helped me discover who I am. I found my love for writing, decided to pursue journalism instead of medical school, and landed an internship with one of the largest newspapers in the country. It was here that I transformed from a shy 16-year-old into a bold, independent, and still a little shy adult. 

The last few weeks have been unprecedented. With so many closures and cancellations, everyone — especially the graduating class — is uncertain and worried about the future.

On Wednesday, a lot of my peers and I were left heartbroken by the news that the June convocation was cancelled, and as such, we, the graduating class of 2020, are not going to get the send-off we were so eagerly waiting for. 

We didn’t get to say goodbye to our friends the way we thought we would. Our parents are not going to see us walk on the stage while they call out our names. We won’t be able to don the U of T black gown and stand proudly as the class of 2020.

Although it’s the best decision in light of the ongoing pandemic, it’s still going to hurt a little. 

We are not going to be able to enjoy our last summer before we are flung into full-fledged adulthood. We might not get to travel and explore the world like we planned. We’re entering into a harsher world, and an economy with fewer jobs. But there’s comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together — and we’ll get through this together.

Dear graduating class of 2020, no matter what happens, trust that we’ll be fine, and know that it’ll be one hell of a story to tell.