It feels like I matriculated at Tufts so long ago. It was September, and I had a floppy mop of freshman hair. I’m sure most of us now-seniors look back at ourselves, sitting nervously in those white chairs on the academic lawn, surprised by the people we were when we entered college. At the time, we didn’t know Tufts and we didn’t know each other. And now here we are.
After orientation we began to adjust, testing out clubs and auditioning for groups, taking classes and thinking about fraternities. We searched for routine, and Tufts became normal—exciting, sure, but normal nonetheless. Yet, as a freshman, it’s hard to have an understanding of Tufts as a whole because you’re so preoccupied on finding comfort in the form of friends, a schedule, hall snacks. It’s a year of selfishness, and that’s okay. It’s important.
Sophomore year brought new confidence; we knew things, we did things. We had an idea of what resources were available to us and where all the places on campus were—except for Sci-Tech. I hung out in Hillsides instead of a cement Tilton dorm room. I declared my major. But even then, compared to now, there was a distinct lack of perspective. Maybe because we were so close to everything Tufts-oriented, we couldn’t focus on a bigger picture. As the year wrapped up, beloved seniors graduated and leadership changed and things were different. And we had to get used to that.
And junior year was the year of independence, the year I moved off campus. Carmichael was replaced by cooking; I expanded my stomping grounds past Davis into Boston. I learned to branch out while some of my friends were gone. In fact, I felt, oddly, more adult. And then it was my turn, and I found myself leaving Tufts behind as I embarked with my educational emancipation: study abroad.
There’s more that changed that semester than just my Chrome bookmarks, which were overwhelmed by friends’ new tumblrs. But these changes are hard to place. In a way, abroad is like a foreign freshman year in that you’re getting used to new surroundings and new faces. But with this mulligan you get to try new things you didn’t try last time: to perfect your language, to travel, to take a study break from Tufts academics. Strangely enough, it seems like everyone your age is doing these same different things. Different, but still normal. And so reflection again proves difficult because your perspective is askew and your mind is elsewhere and you’re so far away.
It’s hard to imagine when you’re gone that Tufts is still as vivid as ever—that during your own adventures, Tufts has been similarly thriving. As I stepped back on campus after a 250-day abstention, this was suddenly clear to me. I smiled at the beautiful campus grounds, the frat row flowers. I was floored by the Dewick renovations and the new gym. The new freshmen. Tufts. Even if you duck out for six months, it never stops.
With this fresh pair of senior eyes, I see that this four-year cycle of Tufts is what keeps us and our school alive. Each class is learning certain lessons in specific intervals, is growing up a little bit, is finding out about itself. And each September when Tufts reunites, people find that not only is Tufts better than ever, but so are they.
Somehow, each year we come back more informed, and more well-rounded. More cosmopolitan, homesick, ready, excited. Year after year, to accessorize Tufts’ additions to its astounding faculty or to complement new cuisine choices in the cafeteria, Tufts students find themselves upgraded as well. Each class is a sum of its individuals’ experiences, proven to improve this epicenter of our education.
Senior year is when it all makes sense, I think, when you can understand the flux that surrounds Tufts University. The constant change that makes things exciting, but sad, but exciting again. Constantly saying hello and goodbye. And this very state of change, of people, courses, traditions, and events coming and going, is how both the student body and the university itself are able to progress. Along with upturned dust, each changing class brings new perspective to the greater whole. For us, Tufts has built our classes, our school, our environment. In return, as we build upon ourselves we can help build up Tufts, too. From our freshman foundation to our towering senior achievements, brick by brick, stone by stone, class by class.
David Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief