Looking back at end of the year excitement

Bob Trettin

The end of the year is upon us, and this means that the first year of my college career is coming to an end. Whoa. I’m sure this sensation is far more intense for our senior Lawrentians, but despite my relative youth, I am still overcome by the feeling that I am indeed growing up.

I believe that this feeling of maturation has heightened in me, as of late, due to the amount of time I have had the privilege of spending with a group of fifth through eighth grade students.

As part of my Psychology of Learning course, I was required to complete a 20-hour practicum at a local area Appleton school. I contacted a grade school nearby and then began walking there twice a week to observe the class and assist the teacher.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this experience. I knew, of course, that it would be educational and valuable practice; however, I did not know that it would resonate with me in a different, perhaps more important, way.

My practicum experience gave me an opportunity to reflect. Seated at the back of the class for a few hours a week, staring at the backs of the heads of kids while they learned about the states and their capitals, or the difference between a porpoise and a dolphin — which I’m still a little foggy on — gave me an acute feeling of nostalgia.

The excitement at having a college student simply sit in class with them, along with their insatiable curiosity, especially when it came to matters of my personal life, was rather entertaining:

 “Do you have a girlfriend?” “Do you shave?” “Can I call you Robby?” No, as of recently; yes, as of fairly recently; and never.

These questions came when I made the mistake of asking if anyone was confused about the spelling lesson I had just given. I really don’t know how my home address has anything to do with spelling, but I commend their eager, weird interest!

The awareness of my nostalgic feelings hit me more towards the end of my 20-hour requirement — which was more of an enjoyment than a requirement — because summer was right around the corner for these students.

This caused me to look back on those last few weeks of school during my childhood. There were no true final exams or final papers; the lessons simply came to an end, and there was an easy transition into a carefree summer.

Now, in college, we have an intensive period of finals before we can even think about summer, and even summer is far less easy-going due to summer jobs, saying goodbye to friends and the ever-present feeling that we need to have an actual plan for our future.

I’m probably sounding far older than I am, but I think it is always important to evaluate the present in light of the past. If I’m being honest with myself, I would not go back to those fantastic pre-summer days of grade school.

I like this area between juvenility and adulthood. What’s that called again? Oh yeah, college. It fills me with such anxiety, yet contentment, nervousness and excitement, nostalgia and hope. All of these things combine to create this unique and fleeting period of time that I intend to enjoy as much as everyone tells me I must.

This process that we call growing up has its benefits and disadvantages, but so does every stage of life, including adolescence. At least I can drive a car and win the lottery if I want.

At first, the perspective that I gained through my practicum experience made me somewhat sad, as I remembered the “end of the school year” flurry of excitement, but then I began to understand how now I simply have a different, more abiding sort of excitement for what’s to come.