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Finding Myself: My College Experience at BU

By Gwynn Vaiciulis

The first time I told my parents I wanted to go to Boston University, I was in 6th grade. Growing up in Oregon, Boston was about as far away as I could get from home. However, my extended family in Connecticut, summers spent on Cape Cod, and my dad’s amazing college experience in Boston excited me about the idea of coming to BU from a young age.

There was only one thing getting in the way—my grades were not up to par with BU’s standards. While I felt a bit defeated, I wanted to do everything in my power to get in, so I applied to BU early decision. I spent the days following staring at my application status, knowing it would not be changing any time soon, but unable to focus on anything else.

I was accepted at BU, and I still remember the genuine joy I felt that day. However, there was a catch to my acceptance: I was placed in the CGS London Program, and would be starting at BU in January, a semester later than the rest of my peers. I was not excited about the gap semester, as I knew my friends at home would be leaving in the fall, and I would likely be in Oregon by myself. I applied for jobs to make some money and gain experience over my gap semester, and prepared for it to be a boring couple of months.

I ended up getting a job working for Nike at one of their retail stores. I started work, and as expected, my semester was off to a boring start. That is, before I met Karen. She was my age, and was what I considered to be the life of the party. We ended up quickly becoming not just friends at work, but best friends. She introduced me to her friends at Nike and made me excited to go to work every day. I ended up having the time of my life that semester, and was lucky to have met someone that made leaving for BU, a day I was so excited about, so difficult.

I arrived in Boston, and was so excited about what was ahead. I quickly established a solid group of friends with people I had met online during my gap semester. I went through recruitment and joined a sorority, which helped me to meet people who had been at BU since September. I started out as a pre-med major, which quickly changed after my first exams. I’ve always been a creative person, so I switched my major to journalism and advertising—the best decision I’ve made up until this point at BU.

Summer came quickly, and I was off to London for my semester abroad. I was so excited for a new experience, and to further my connections with my new friends. The time abroad brought us incredibly close. From dinners out, to nights in, to field trips, and traveling to different countries on the weekends,it was an experience I will never forget.

My summer in London made me even more excited to return in the fall, and see my friends who I had gotten so close with. The start of my sophomore year was one of the best years of my life, as I finally felt like I had a place at BU. I went home for Spring break, and was excited to return to BU. However, that would not happen. The COVID-19 pandemic came to light, I was distanced from my friends, and forced to return home to Oregon to live what felt like another gap semester. I was devastated that something I had waited so long for was taken away from me so quickly.

My time at home went by slowly, and I ended up returning to BU a month early to move into my apartment. It was so amazing to see my friends again, and though the world had changed drastically, our friendships did not. It was a weird Junior year, but we made the most of it, and made memories in the safest way possible.

Senior year came around, and I was so grateful to have one full year at BU that was somewhat normal. I was able to go out and experience the life in Boston that I had looked forward to for so many years. Though my senior year has been very academically challenging and stressful, I have the most amazing people to lean on and to make memories with at the same time. I always knew I wanted to go to school in Boston, however, my experience was completely different than I imagined. Though it was tainted due to COVID, I wouldn’t trade my time for the world. As I said, I’ve been in love with Boston since I was young. These four years allowed me to fall more in love with the city, while finding myself at the same time.

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