Oct. 16 marked the beginning of a weekend filled with booze, bonfires and old buddies. We know these festive days as Alumni Weekend. Friends and family from near and far return to the beautiful ‘burgh to re-live their intoxicated collegiate adventures.

On the first night of Alumni Weekend, I headed to Green Room with the people whom I have called my best friends since sophomore year. Now that I’m a senior, I’ve begun to see this town in a different light.

Bono isn’t just a pizzeria. Monopole isn’t just a bar. Broad Street isn’t just a main road.

With every step we took, I felt nostalgic at the thought of becoming a Plattsburgh alumna. We entered Green Room, and the entire place was packed with students old and new. The music was bumping so loudly that I could feel it in my chest. Hugs were being given, and conversation of time-gone-by filled the air.

After what seemed like hours, I finally grabbed my drink and sat down to talk to some old friends who had recently earned their diplomas and set sail into the real world. They filled me in on what these last few months had to offer for them. Some had full-blown, full-time jobs, some were still floating around intern-land and others were suffering through the dreaded “search.”

What they had to say was both enlightening and frightening, but what clung to my heart most of all was what they had to say after that. They told me what most people who are beyond their college years tell you: “Cherish it while it lasts.”

It’s a shame that we can only appreciate things in hindsight. We look back on memories and think of the things we would’ve done differently if given the opportunity. We miss people and experiences and wish it all back, or wish we could relive a single perfect night.

I look back and find it funny when people wished me luck at college after graduating high school. They wished me well on “finally entering the real world.” That message scared me a little back then but, knowing what I know now, college is far from “the real world.” In fact, college is more of a fantasy land where you can make your own rules to abide by. You create yourself all over again, and once you have a core group of companions, every day is like a giant sleepover with your best friends.

Sure, there’s work to be done and money to be spent and a diploma to be earned, but everything that comes in between is bliss.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say Plattsburgh quickly became my home away from home.

I can easily look back and recall the first day I transferred to Plattsburgh from Adirondack Community College in 2013. My brother helped me move into Moffitt Hall, all the way up to the 7th floor. I entered into a suite with seven other girls and was entirely overwhelmed. They had already made their bonds from freshman year, and I wasn’t sure where I’d fit in.

Only a couple of weeks went by, and it felt as though I had known these girls for a lifetime. I currently live with six of these girls, off campus in our own apartments, across the hall from each other. The memories we’ve made and moments we’ve experienced have served as a crucial chapter in my life.

The college experience is whatever you make it to be. I found a bunch of weirdos just like me, I got involved in what the college had to offer, I took chances and I know that I’ll be able to look back and smile.

I can’t exactly say I’m looking forward to joining the alumni who visited this weekend, but I can tell you that I’m ready. I have a basket full of memories to carry with me into future and lifelong friends to help me along the way. I’m (almost) mentally prepared for the next step.

On that note, I raise my glass to cherishing the last six months I have in Plattsburgh. I’m making every moment count, holding my friendships close and preparing myself for the inevitable real world.

Email Courtney Casey at courtney.casey@cardinalpointsonline.com

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