Max Samson/Art Director

During finals week of my first semester, I received an email saying that if I didn’t declare my major within the next three days, I would lose all of my financial aid. Since I had come into Binghamton University with credits from high school, in the eyes of the school I was a junior rather than a freshman. I’m sure anyone reading this knows the drastic differences those two years make, but my mind was set: I was actually a junior and I was getting out of BU as soon as possible.

To me, my undergraduate experience was just a stepping stone to get into the next school — the one that “really mattered.” Frankly, undergrad seemed like more of a formality than anything. It didn’t help that it seemed like people come to BU for lack of a better option and drudge their way through four years, having a good enough time, just to leave with a degree from a pretty good school. I fell into that narrative, only trying to rush the experience.

Spoiler: I stayed the entire four years. Nothing worked out just like I had planned (shockingly). In between freshman year and now, a whole bunch of life happened, enough that I needed to stay the “full” time in order to gain the experiences necessary for that next school I wanted to go to. I came into senior year frustrated about it, feeling like I was just wasting another year of my life and should’ve been done already.

Now, as I sit here at the end of this year, I can’t imagine having not experienced the last nine months at BU. I am leaving a different, and I’d like to think immensely better, person than when I started this year. In between all the classes and internships and volunteering, I met and became closer with people that I now can’t imagine my life without. I learned enough to finally feel worthy of the degree I’ll be receiving, plus some lessons about life that you just can’t get anywhere else but in college — and I finally became the vegan yogi that I’d been dying to be since high school when I would wear tie-dye pants and flower headbands.

I promised myself I wouldn’t be cliché, but I also promised myself I wouldn’t be at BU four years later and here I am (thankfully). I came into this semester thinking how much I couldn’t wait for it to be over, and now I’m stuck wanting nothing more than for it to never end. I know that life will always go on, and as my yoga instructor says, “Enjoy it now, because this is it,” so that’s what I’m doing. This past week has been the first time since I first came to Binghamton that I was in awe of the place I was in, the people I was with and what lies ahead of me. I wish I had listened to all of the people telling me to enjoy it while it lasts because it flies by, but all I can do now is tell the people who aren’t graduating yet to actually do that because it really does. I don’t expect anyone to listen to another senior telling them the same old story, but hopefully if you’re a freshman reading this and you’re forced to declare your major early, you won’t let it get to your head.

Thank you to Pipe Dream, and the Opinions section (past and present) especially, for giving me a break from the boring science stuff and providing me with the chance to do something I genuinely enjoy (and for being so supportive this semester). Thank you to the people who made me a part of their family this year, and an enormous thank-you to the incredible people I was lucky enough to meet along the way (you know who you are). All of you made the four years incredibly worth it.

Savanna Vidal is a senior majoring in biology. She is an assistant opinions editor.