As I think back to last spring as I was sitting at my kitchen table browsing through the University College application and the options for the various topics that were available, my casual attitude towards these decisions starts to scare me. I thought it would be fun because my friend Mark Buente’s sister was in a UC and said she loved it, and since I was planning on being an International Studies major, it just made sense to make World Politics my first choice. If only I knew this decision would turn out to be one of the best, and more important ones that I’ve ever made. I can honestly say my best memories of the first semester, whether experiences or friendships were all a result of this program.
Our weekly trips embody my thrill for being in DC. I’ve only been here a few months and I’ve been to some of the most important places in the country. I came here because I wanted to be surrounded by people who were capable of living for something bigger than themselves, and I wanted to be in a place where important decisions were being made by some of the brightest minds of our generation, although this desire probably has to do with my frustration with living in a small town when I clearly do not share the same values of religiously keeping up with everything that is the SEC, or having my life goal be to end up back in Knoxville with a husband, two kids, and an SUV. My point is not to hate on where I come from, in fact I love visiting, but to rather emphasize how refreshing it’s been to be surrounded by students who care about the same things I care about and who understand the importance of being a global citizen.
Our class discussions have opened my mind to different beliefs, while also challenging my own. I now have strong opinions on topics such as security, development, and IR schools of thought. Things I never even thought about before. I love being in a class where people are so passionate about their opinions that they are genuinely interested, rather than dismissive, to hear why others do not agree. I think a lot of this growth has to do with the set up of our class, and the insight that Gunperi and Erin are always willing to offer.
Lastly, I have no idea how I’ve gone eighteen years without these people. I think it can best be exemplified by the horrifying moment mid way through the year when Dayna, Katrina, and I thought that we had to be de-tripled since rooms were opening up for freshmen. I thought living in a dorm would be the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with, and now I’d rather not have any space to move, than even think about not living with them. There are very few people we’ve met who don’t comment on the fact that Letts 6 never does anything without each other. It’s incredibly rare for a group of people with such strong personalities to bond the way that we have. As dysfunctional as we may be, these people have become my family and there’s nothing that could have possibly made my first semester of college any better than it’s been.