I like to consider myself an adventurer.
At home, I’m rarely actually home, spending the majority of my spare time driving the short 25 minutes to either Minneapolis or St. Paul (or sometimes both). I look for anything and everything to do, usually driving to the cities without anything specific to do, but hopeful that I’ll find that perfect little coffee shop to spend my Sundays reading in, or simply exploring one of the many parks or museums, enjoying some killer local music, or straight up wandering around and people watching.
But for whatever reason, I chose to remain on campus far too much freshman year. And I know I’m not the only Blugold who made the same mistake freshman year.
Why? Dumb excuses and false assumptions.
“I’m too busy right now,” I’d tell myself, as I indulged in my third nap of the day and binge watched Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix while procrastinating my mounds of homework.
Why didn’t I ever think of simultaneously being productive and checking out a new coffee shop or cafe? Easily done, especially when I had my car on campus second semester.
Or, at times it would be a group effort, me and my friends gathering in one of our tiny dorm rooms and doing absolutely nothing together.
Don’t get me wrong, doing nothing is sometimes exactly what you need, or frankly, the only appealing thing to do. I made great memories doing nothing with my friends. But there were so many times we could’ve utilized those spare moments to experience new things, to make ourselves more apart of a community, to have more fun. This is the time I, and other college students, should be out experiencing life.
“There’s nothing to do, anyways,” I’d say. Then, I would read and hear about all of the exciting events constantly taking place in Eau Claire, an extraordinarily lively city, though smaller than the Twin Cities I was so used to exploring.
Or, even better, I’d tell myself “Everything is too far away.” Hello, walking? Riding the bus?
I thought I’d get out more when I had my car during my second semester, but it only left room for more excuses: “I shouldn’t waste my gas.” Again, why didn’t I try walking somewhere, or utilizing our extremely convenient and free public transportation?
On top of that, I would blow off many on campus events available to me under virtually the same excuses. I did little, regardless of the fact that whenever I did venture out of my dorm or off campus, I had the best time.
Sophomore marketing student Katie Beard had a similar experience.
“I didn’t know where to find things to do, and I didn’t have a car,” Beard said. “So I mostly looked on campus to find things to do.”
The majority of my favorite freshman year memories were made sipping coffee and doing homework in The Goat or Racy’s, or downtown exploring the various small businesses on Barstow and beyond.
This year will be different. As a sophomore who has now experienced campus life for a full academic year, I really have no excuses any longer. I refuse to regret how little exploring I did while living in such a wonderful community, only remembering times spent in the classroom or in a dorm room. Beard is also confident she’ll make the effort to get off campus more.
“I think I still have a lot of opportunity to do more,” Beard said. “I did what I did as a freshman, but I have three more years. There’s always new places to find.”
That there is. Here’s to a new year and the opportunity to do more.