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Seeing the lovingly proud look on the face of my prospie's father as she excitedly walked away with me towards Carman, it all finally hit me. A series of images ranging from my own father dropping me off at Days on Campus, to taking on the maze that Butler seemed to be, to going on impromptu fro-yo runs to JJs during finals, being trampled by enormous athletes during Bacchanal, to waiting eagerly outside my first Lithum class all flashed vividly in my mind. At that moment I realized that even though we still have a few weeks left, I'm not a freshman anymore. I don't have that innocently exuberant expression on my face nor do I walk giddily up Low Steps anymore. I don't have to wander around Butler aimlessly unsure of what rooms are open or full. I don't have to ask what dining halls are open on Saturdays. In that moment, listening to my prospie rave on about just how beautiful the lawns are, I noticed how frighteningly young these new students looked and just how far my classmates and I have come. We came to Columbia armed with a copy of The Iliad, a Columbia ID, and a campus map. We asked strangers if they could tell us where Hamilton Hall was so we could find our Orientation Groups. We all remember those infamous treks to EC because "This upperclassman I know invited me to a party" and we felt so cool.  We remember going to Tom's because that's what we were told "Columbia students" did. We all viciously annotated our first few LitHum books until we discovered the godly gift that is Sparknotes. moreAnd somewhere in the midst of those random nights during which we might not have even made it out of Carman, those Thursdays we spent in Butler rushing to finish FroSci homework, and the many meals we shared in John Jay, we began to find ourselves. We found ourselves through Orchesis, Student Council, through the Principles of Econ class we took, through the close friends we made. Suddenly we didn't miss home as much as we did before. We wouldn't nostalgically facebook stalk our high school friends, wishing we could share the same college memories or text our parents everyday saying how much we missed them. We began to call this university home. And in this new version of home we found that with no parents or siblings to run to, our friends quickly became our family. In finding this family, we learned not to trust too easily and maybe not to give our hearts away too fast, but we also learned what true friendship is. When you're so sick you can't get out of bed and your best friend brings you chicken noodle soup from Nussbaum, you get the sense that you're not alone. When you're in Butler at 3 am and your computer is about to die and the kid in your FroSci discussion section lends you a charger, you know there's always someone looking out for you. Although we came here young and afraid, unsure of what we were about to encounter, we could always take comfort in the fact that we were freshmen. As the spring semester comes to an end I can say the thing I am most afraid of leaving behind is this "freshman blanket." I can hide from my mistakes, from my lack of knowledge, from my underdeveloped skills because "I'm a freshman" and I'm not supposed to know any better. But now that we're welcoming a new class, we have outgrown our role as the "adorable babies" of Columbia. It is yet another marker that adulthood is becoming a reality. For most this is frightening. We are finally leaving behind our childhood and with it our sense of dependency. I leave at the end of this school year in awe of the friends I have made and the things we have all accomplished. I leave excited to come back to take on the endearing nightmare that McBain is rumored to be alongside my best friends. I leave for the summer with the overwhelming pride that comes with calling Columbia my home. In the fall, it will be heartbreakingly strange to see new faces emerge from Carman as I walk by on my way to class. It will be incredibly off-putting to see these new faces in the dining halls, the libraries, and even the bars. But I think what will help most with the transition is to remember that we were them. We have all been them. And now it's time to pass on the torch of innocence and childish excitement. It's time to put away the freshman blanket and face our lives head on. We have three years left. Right now it seems like plenty of time, but it will sneak up on us just as fast as the end of our freshman year and before you know it we'll be wearing the Columbia blue graduation robes.

2016 end-of-the-year freshmen