In my humble (and maybe somewhat biased) opinion, Athens is essentially the perfect college town. There is an endless supply of fun things to do and interesting people to interact with. I came here knowing nobody, and am leaving with friends I'll know for the rest of my life. Here are just a few of my favorite things from the last four years...
School Spirit. I went to a very small, academically-oriented high school that had no sports. Yes, you read that right. If we wanted to participate in a sports team, we had to join the team at our district school (I ran track, but it wasn't the same as representing my own school). That being said, my first football game was a UGA game, and I never imagined how awesome the experience would be. Dressing up for the home games, taking road trips with friends to the away games, and cheering on the team for the last four years has been one of the highlights of my college experience.
UGA's traditions. Athens is full of history and traditions, and I can't help but smile every time I walk past (not under) the Arch, and hear the victory bell ringing after a home victory. Leaving these all behind will be very sad, but I know I'll always be able to come back to the same old Athens after I've graduated and moved on.
(For those of you who don't live in Athens, the Arch marks the entrance to campus from downtown and has become somewhat of a symbol of the University. Legend has it that if you walk under the Arch as an undergraduate, you will not graduate on time. Any time of day, you will find students going out of their way not to walk under the Arch. In fact, the cement steps are worn down on the sides of the Arch from so many people bypassing it.)
Experiencing a new culture. I never realized when I moved 8 hours north from my Sarasota home, that I would end up in the South. While Florida is geographically in the South, culturally it certainly is not. Sweet tea, pearls, and southern accents were all foreign to me, but they have all become dear to my heart over the last four years.
Downtown Athens. It goes without saying that downtown, with its 100+ bars and music venues, is quite popular among students. More than the bars though, I've come to love the unique little restaurants you can't find anywhere but downtown Athens. Last Resort, East-West, Farm 255, Five Star Day, etc... these will always be some of my favorites.
That small town feel. Although Athens has over 100,000 residents, it still manages to feel like a small town. I rarely have to drive my car more than 5 miles each day, and after four years I feel like I know everyone. I literally can't walk around town or across campus without running into a familiar face, and I absolutely love that.
The list goes on and on, and I could probably write a whole book based on my amazing college experience. But (not to be cliche), all good things must come to an end... One month from today, I will walk under the Arch for my first time proudly wearing my cap and gown and ready for life after Athens, but I'll always be a bulldog at heart.