I went to one of the most well-known universities in the United States, The University of Alabama. Unfortunately, I did not graduate from that university. After partying a little too hard, I did not put school on my priority list and my grades really suffered. An academic adviser told me that most of my classes would only count as hours, not classes if I were to stay. I was about to be a junior in college and academically I would be classified as a second semester freshmen. All of that money, down the drain.
Don’t get me wrong, at the time I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was attending concerts and parties at frat houses. I was able to get into the bars and dance the night away with my friends. I took a long weekend and raced to New Orleans to explore. I drank wine coolers on the patio of my dorm and played sand volleyball instead of doing my homework. There were many late night’s with Ben and Jerry watching trashy TV instead of getting enough sleep.
A lot of students make that mistake, being away from home for the first time can be freedom overload. College is a time of exploring who you are, learning true independence, and a great starting point for making something of yourself. We all leave home excited to see what is in store for us, some a little nervous, and ready to hit the ground running.
Not being able to graduate from Alabama is a regret I have, but I do not regret how I spent my time in T-Town. Everything ended up working out for me and Alabama remains one of my favorite adventures.
Here is how I recall it…
I had an amazing opportunity to take classes at The University of Alabama through the National Student Exchange program, so I packed up mom’s Sequoia and off we went. Within ten minutes of my parents leaving me in my new dorm room in Mary Burke Hall, I made a lifelong friend. This friend introduced me to one of my favorite young adult novel series, willingly accompanied me to the Rec while I was on a semester-long health kick, shared my love for Rammer Jammer, and took as many photos of me as necessary to get the right profile picture.
Everyone I befriended was from a different place. Alabama had students from all 50 states and countless different countries. I remember there was a girl that lived on my floor who I always saw washing dishes in the communal bathroom sink-she was from China! It was incredibly easy to make friends in this place. How lucky am I to have friends who live all over, new places to visit!
My social calendar was jam packed. Getting to know new Tri Delta sisters included dinner at the chapter home aka the Round House, attending officer’s council, and a chapter trip to St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee to see firsthand where our hard-earned fundraising money goes to help children battling cancer.
Every Tuesday I was picked up to volunteer at Project Blessings, an organization that fixed up the homes of tornado victims and low-income families. Watching one building in particular transform before my eyes into a live-able home was rewarding. I was involved with a homeless awareness group, shelter dogs and cats, and an after school program. I was constantly on the go but I loved every minute of what I did.
My classes were incredible; I was taking a full course-load of classes that interested me. The buildings featured marble staircases, grand entrances, and of course history. I was quickly called out for being from Chicago and each class contained questions like, “Do you have Applebees in your town?” My Educational Psychology professor honestly asked me the silliest questions each class. My linguistics class prepared me to professionally make fun of your accent and dissect dialects. In Theater, I was writing, seeing performances, and jumping on stage myself. I also spent a lot of time researching relationships for sociology so you should listen to my advice, it’s legit. The best thing I learned is that you do not “get an A” you “make an A.”
My late nights studying and office hours paid off, I made the Dean’s List! I had the opportunity to extend my stay and graduate from Alabama but my classes from ISU did not fit into any of the major sequences I wanted to pursue so it was an unwise choice. An academic adviser opened up my eyes to endless careers I could pursue and suggested I come back to Alabama for a Masters Program.
You can choose which version of my time in Alabama you want to believe: that I returned to ISU after failing and partying too much or that like all adventures I did my best until it was time to return. You best believe I laughed when I heard a rumor about myself. Years later and the strangest things still circulating. In Gretchen Weiners’ fashion, I can’t help that I’m so popular.
Another thing is certain, we all miss your laughter, Jaimie.