Last Friday, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise with some other members of the Daily Campus photo department. This is one of many adventures I’ve made with the photo department and they are honestly a lot of fun. We got up early and drove over to Horsebarn Hill, getting there just as the sun was cresting over the trees. It was so cold that I could barely feel my fingers. The rising sun did little to warm things up, though it did bathe the hill and my friends in some beautiful light. It was any photographers’ dream. Someone posed with a banana, we took a group picture and then we headed back to the main campus.
The scene I’m describing is one that many students have experienced before; catching both sunrise and sunset on Horsebarn is probably number one on the UConn bucket list. In fact, that was part of the reason we were there. One of the members in the group had never experienced sunrise on Horsebarn Hill and this was a special experience for him. I had made this trip with someone else in the fall semester last year. I even expertly titled the photo “Senior Bucket List.” Pretty smart right?
For those unfamiliar with the term, a bucket list is a list of things you do before you “kick the bucket.” Pretty straightforward. In this case, it’s not about literally dying, but the end of your UConn career. It’s literally a list of things you need (or should do) before you graduate. You’ve heard of all the things: take a picture with Jonathan, catch sunrise on Horsebarn, attend a game in Gampel, go to One Ton Sundae, etc. It’s a fairly big list.
Eight to ten semesters. Also known as four to five years. That’s about how long the average person spends in college. At the end of it all, you walk across a stage in one of the great rooms or arenas on campus with your diploma and hopefully, a completed checklist. After all the time you put in, it seems odd that all you get are two sheets (technically only one real one) to show that you were actually there for a decent portion of your life. Is this really the point of college? Two forms to show you where you’ve been and where you might be going?
I came to college as an actuarial science major. Somewhere along the way I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life running around with a camera and telling stories. A few years later, I changed my major so it would reflect that goal. If I spent five years of my life trying to figure out that I want to be a journalist, then that’s as much an empty thing as the two sheets of paper I’ll be collecting in four weeks.
Standing up on that hill, freezing my fingers off and watching the sun illuminate campus, I realized what the point of college really is. The bucket list and the diploma are cool, but they don’t really represent anything. When you go for orientation, college is described as the best four years of your life. Hopefully it won’t be the best, but it will certainly be some of them.
What I’m trying to get at is that college is all about the memories; the good memories and the bad. For me, it’s going to be remembering running around with a camera and failing math classes. I can experience the bucket list items more times than actually required to check them off, because it’s the memories built up along the way that actually matter. So screw the bucket list, and just enjoy yourself. It’s just a scrap of paper anyways.