I had this flashback. Or maybe it was nostalgia. Either way, I got to thinking about my days as a Brigham Young University student. What an epic journey and chapter in my life it was.
I had hoped and dreamed of going to BYU someday as a high school student. When the opportunity presented itself to run track, I did that prior to entering BYU. An unplanned step along the way that was extremely worthwhile. Starting at a junior college gave me a leg up. I learned the ups and downs of being a college student and learned how to get good grades.
I entered BYU as a transfer student with a nearly perfect GPA. This helped build my confidence and assurance that I could handle the big dogs. My first impression of BYU was through staying in Heritage Halls. I hated that place. I had six roommates that I never really got to know. It was a very diverse crowd. In our little apartment we came from Arizona, Utah, Mexico, Japan, China, and Mexico. Truthfully I spent hardly any time in my dorm. I did not have a car at this point and did not know of any Winslow kids at BYU for the summer terms. I was the lone ranger paving my way. It was good because I learned how to walk all over campus. I learned the bus system, and I had plenty of study time.
I remember thinking BYU was so clean and perfect. Every piece of space was manicured with flowers and landmarks. Truth be told, I still could not believe I was there. Being on campus confirmed the high level of education that I would be receiving.
I moved home after the summer term and quickly got ready to return for the fall term. This time around I reached out to a Winslow friend. I wanted to live with someone I knew. This worked out well. By October I started to figure out that winter was no joke in Provo. That was exciting.
I really really loved going to football games. The hype and sensation was high charged.
By the end of that first semester I did start to notice something weird about Provo. Why was everyone the same? Blonde hair, blue eyed, conservative, happy, productive, and skinny people everywhere. Yes, I check many of those boxes myself. In many ways it is hypocritical for me to even think this, but I couldn't help but notice. Something about all the sameness makes you want to be different. Everywhere else in the world you have to be good to be different. However, in Provo you have to be bad to be different. This reversing of universal principles annoyed me. I feel like I did not fit that profile.
I certainly never walked on the wild side. I am as conservative as they come. However, I did try to separate myself from some of the comparing to others and fakeness.
I did love my elementary education program. The amazing people I met in that program are life long friends and people I admire. As a matter of fact, I imagine that some of those special peeps are reading this right now. From day one I knew I was in the right place. We rallied together, studied together, cried together, and had fun together. It was this program and these people that made BYU my BYU. This program also led me to NEW ZEALAND. It was a flier posted in the McKay Building that sparked my interest to look into the New Zealand cohort program. It was a typical cold and gray day in Utah, and the prospect of getting the heck out of Provo to student teach somewhere other than Utah was a dream come true. I knew I was going. I knew I had to go.
No need to talk about the New Zealand experience. That was all documented in previous blog posts back to 2008.
When I returned from New Zealand, I had one last BYU hurrah. My official student teaching began in the schools of Utah. Again, the sameness really got to me. Growing up in a diverse and economically challenged area, I wanted to teach in a similar setting. I got through student teaching and actually accepted my first teaching job at my very own high school the week after I was done.
I did not walk for graduation, and I honestly never thought twice about leaving. However, these days I find myself wanting to go back to visit. I look through different eyes. I have my career. I have my man. I have my life. It was a standing joke that I must have been the only girl to make it through BYU without finding a guy. Whatever. Like I said, I did not quite fit the profile of popular blonde girl or pioneer girl. I was somewhere in the middle doing my thing.
Bottom line is that I freaking loved it. That place is ridiculously impressive. I still feel lucky I got the chance to go there. It helped shaped who I am. It confirmed to me the kind of life I wanted for myself and family. One of these days I'll have a reason or excuse to get back up there.