In a scant few hours, I will cease being a resident of St. John’s College. Some 731 days, 480 dinners, and countless friendships later, I have reached the end of my time at the best graduate residence at UBC.
The last few days of packing and cleaning have brought forth some contrasts. On one hand, I feel like I just moved in yesterday, on the other hand, I think of all the people I’ve met and I realize how long I’ve been here. Some new residents have started to move in. They’ve told me about their first couple of days at the College. I’m in my last couple of days. Such contrast.
It goes without saying that the last two years have been the best of my life. It is not a coincidence for those two years, I lived at St. John’s College. For most of my post-undergrad years, I lived a boring and stagnant life. I was not headed in the right direction. One of the best decisions of my life was to apply for grad school. Why? Because it allowed me to apply to live at St. John’s College. I am so thankful for the Membership Committee for accepting me. Had I not been accepted, I’m not sure where I’d be right now. Living with my parents? Living in some lonely basement suite off-campus? What I do know is that I’d be less happy.
There are a lot of great things about SJC. Yes, the building is fairly new, the location is great, and your meals are cooked for you, but in the end, it is the people that mattered most to me.
In the two years I’ve stayed here, I cannot begin to count the number of people I’ve met. Each one of them had an interesting story to tell. Often though, it was the mindless conversations that were the most memorable. The ones where you’re sitting at dinner talking about a Simpsons episode, sports, movies, or why women love bad boys. Sure, this wasn’t rigorous academic discourse, but plain old random conversation. There were so many chances to interact as well. The dining hall was good, but so was the hallway. You’d stop and chat for five minutes and be on your way. There was also the benches in the courtyard. On the bus on the way to a movie. Dinner at a restaurant. Receptions before formal dinners. Waiting for your turn at bat during softball, and so on.
After all those months, I’m not sure if everyone understands how much that all meant to me. I feel so honoured that so many people were nice enough to let me know a little about themselves. That even if you spoke to me for only five minutes during dinner, I welcomed the experience.
I am almost overwhelmed when I try to think of all the people that I’ve crossed paths here at the College. I have this fear that I’ll forget about people who should be unforgettable. I’m afraid that I’ll forget the time someone bought a pitcher of beer and we all talked about Star Wars, and the list goes on. If I could, I’d keep all those memories forever.
My friend and fellow resident Patrick once remarked that living at SJC was like living at a country club. In many ways, he’s right. It was so much fun to live here. We had a social support network unlike any I had seen. I could work two hours at my desk and then decide I wanted to interact with my friends. In five seconds I could be out in the hallway knocking on doors to stir up some trouble. The probability of goofing off was high, all the time. Imagine taking all your closest friends and putting them all in an apartment building with you. The amount of bonding that goes on here is unbelievable. There are friendships being forged that will last a lifetime. I do not possess the writing ability to express how much I care about the people here.
Patrick once said to a former resident, Adrian, that living at SJC was like a dream. He then wondered if there could be anything wrong with SJC. Adrian, who had moved out by then, had an answer. He said, “There’s only one thing wrong with SJC. You eventually have to leave.”
I knew what he was talking about back then, but it is painfully clear now. All things must come to an end, even the good, hell, the best things. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. Better that I left wanting more, than me saying good riddance. Still, I leave with a heavy heart. The last two years have been intensely positive and who would blame me for feeling so. I am not the first person to have been touched by SJC, nor will I be the last. In the end, I am part of a much bigger cycle that has been in motion for years.
I wanted this post to be more elegant but it’s late and I’ve been exhausted for two straight days, so I’ll try to wrap this up.
I wish everyone I’ve met over the last two years could read this. I want to thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules and interacting with me. Knowing each and every one of you was an honour I will try to never forget. I am a better person today because of all of you. You made my life better. No matter if we were friends for five months or five minutes, you made my life richer. I cannot even hope to repay the debt I owe everybody for what you’ve done for me. I can only offer you my friendship in return. In the end, I hope this will suffice.
I could write “thank you” until the sun rose, but it would still not equal the gratitude I feel in my heart. So, I will write it only once more… thank you everyone for all you’ve done for me.
For those who are moving on, I wish you good luck and hope we can stay in touch. For those who are staying, you know I’ll be around and I hope we can continue our adventures. In any case, goodbye my good friends.