When you finally get ready to leave a place as beautiful as Darden and Charlottesville, you try and soak in each and every part of it one last time. As I walked the 3 minutes from my idyllic apartment in Ivy gardens to Darden last evening, I thought about the numerous early mornings I thanked my stars for the perfectly located apartment to get to an 8:00am class! As I strolled about, I realized how I had seen this path snowed up in winter, rained in when it showered, bloomed up during spring, colored up during fall, and bared up during autumn. The Darden edifice itself humbled me with its regal brick red and strong sparkling white pillars. The meticulously manicured lawns and immaculately pruned roses filled me with a sense of pure joy. The grand piano room and the elegant hallways brought back so many memories from my wonderful time here.
I thought about how much I was going to miss all these aspects of Darden. But all of it lasted for a few minutes before I started feeling really alone. And then it hit me that the physicality of Darden I was experiencing has been here for years and will be here for many years to come but the Darden that I was going to miss was so much more than that.
What I was really going to miss had a lot to do with the people who made Darden what it was in my heart. Classmates who inspired me to be more than I thought I could ever be, faculty who pushed me harder than I thought I could take, the student affairs executive who taught me the real meaning of going out of your way to help, the IT desk, canvas, and qualtrics team who taught me how to be calm during a technology crises, the first coffee, abbot dining hall servers and the admin who demonstrated the value of being consistent even when no one is watching, the librarian who instilled the value of always smiling even when you are having a bad day, the career services team who taught me to never give up in the face of rejection and garner faith from corners of your mind you knew didn’t exist, the random Virginian at the corner who taught me the value of being cheerful and read to greet even when it’s cold and slimy outside, the roommate who keeps dinner for you when you haven’t eaten all day, the friend who makes sure you are back home from every single Thursday night drinking club, the Australian exchange students who teach you the value of being open and welcoming of every experience that comes your way in a new country, the classmates who shared their life story with Darden TALK, the girls who share their hopes, dreams, and aspirations over a fun night of wine and cheese, the aussie roommate and crazy friend who believe in opening at least 4 bottles of wine along with thumping Bollywood music every single night be it a weekday or a weekend, the endless nights of partying till 6:00 am, the numerous ‘last’ going away parties, the learning team dinners and hours of cards against humanity, the quiet nights at home when you just want to not think of any more alcohol and just have gatorade water and dinner for a change, the innumerable gossip sessions with your girlfriends over home cooked meals, the fiance who puts up with your every whim and fancy unconditionally, and finally my lovely family who supported me through every single step of the Darden journey believing in me more than I ever believed in myself sometimes!
As I look out at the beautiful Flagler court today, I know that it’s all these people, and experiences, the good, the great and the ugly, is the Darden I take back with me in my heart.
Of course the physical presence of Darden and Charlottesville with be missed dearly, but only because of the friendships and memories I made here… for life… This one goes out to each one of you who made Darden a very special part of my life! Till we meet again 🙂 So long Darden! You have been a fantastic two years!