Never say good-bye

By Erica Fatland

The semester is coming to an end, and with finals approaching, I know I’m nearing my last days at NIU. Yep, this is my last column to appear on the op-ed page of the Northern Star, the paper I have worked at since June 1, 1999. But I’m not sad, really.

So this is it. Before I leave this wonderful university to tackle the real world, I’d like to give some words of wisdom. There are some things that everyone should do at NIU before they graduate. Some of you may agree with me, and others may think I’ve lost it. But here are the tips and believe me, they’re worth reading.

1. Stay up all night

Seriously, watching the sun come up over the Holmes Student Center at 6:30 a.m. is a sight to see. A couple of summers ago, a few friends and I decided that we didn’t need to rest before going back to the gridlock. Instead, we sat up ’til the wee hours and shared stories, argued, complained and basically had a great

experience … together.

2. Go to a fraternity party

Back in my day, circa 1996, afterhours still were fun … and legal. I am not Greek (nor did I ever want to be), but I have to say that getting dolled up, slapping that wristband on and dancing the night away at any random house was fun. I was reluctant at first, for both obvious and unknown reasons, but once I got there, it wasn’t so bad. It was something that I will never experience the likes of again.

3. Join an organization

No, this isn’t a plug for the Star. But I do have to say that my life as a college student really began when I started working here. Never again will I be able to work with people who have the same likes and dislikes as me, or are the same age as me. I don’t think I will ever be an editor for a newspaper again, either. For many students, college will be the only time they will be able to fully express their opinions and concerns and actually make things happen. I met some of my best friends and had the best experiences at the Star. For years to come, I will remember this place and how much it has affected my life. Not only did working here help me get a job, but it helped me find true friendships and made me value everything, including sleep, a little more.

4. Get diverse

Whether it’s going to a PRISM dance, an NAACP meeting or a Women’s Studies presentation & it’s learning something new. I firmly believe that once you stop learning or think you know everything, you’re useless. By getting out there and seeing how people unlike yourself live, you learn more about yourself. None of us belong to every ethnicity or organization, so we all could use a little diversity in our lives.

5. Meet someone new

A lot of us get caught up in our lives and think we already have enough friends, so why get to know anyone else? Well, my answer to that is that another best friend or at least a good acquaintance could be anywhere &sitting next to you in class, asking if the seat next to you on the bus is taken or even bumping into you in the hallway. I met one of my best friends at NIU by chance & my roommate and her roommate wanted single rooms at Grant South, so we ended up together. There are a good 23,000-odd students that go to NIU. Just think of the possibilities.

I have many other random experiences everyone should do, such as going to Amnesia, living in a dorm for two years and waiting until the last minute to do your homework, but they really don’t denote an entire paragraph dedicated to each of them.

“Uh, oh. She’s not done yet. Here comes the depressing stuff.”

Whoever is reading this knows that the good-byes had to come at some point. This is the part where I make my little “shout out” to all the people who have helped me survive these five years and made me the person I am, which is a long stretch from high school, thank God.

Boy, where do I begin? I should start the right way and thank my family. You’ve always been there for me and never let me down. I hope I will do the same for you.

Then, there are my friends. There sure are a lot of you who have made my college experience so wonderful, almost too many to name. Plus, I don’t want to leave anyone out. You know who you are, and I am forever in your debt for helping, listening and just being there. Five people in particular who I’d like to thank are Jennifer, Jill, Molly, Yanna and Charlie. I appreciate all that each of you have done for me. All the others, and you know who you are, I thank you, too.

And then there’s the Star. I hope to keep all the relationships I have made here. It’s been a great two years, and I will always remember the great times and not-so-great times we’ve had. Melissa, Whitney and Barb & I could never wish for better friends/co-workers. I hope always to keep in touch and who knows, maybe we’ll work together in the future. Then, there’s Hank, Josh, Jeff, Jeremy, Brooke and the list goes on and on. I see all of you as my friends, and I hope you feel the same way. I’ll never forget you.

To all of you who have read my columns and wrote back, both with good words and complaints, thank you. Criticism, both good and bad, will make me a better writer and a better person for that matter. I appreciate every letter and e-mail I receive.

Thanks NIU, it’s been a good five years.