As an oh-so-recent Grinnell grad who has oh-so-recently experienced the final ticks of my college clock, been handed a piece of paper of supposed symbolic significance that cannot adequately contain nor express the magnificent years that have so recently ended, and moved back home in hopes of finding myself/finding a job/finding a way, recently I’ve come to reflect on my time here at a Grinnell. In short: it’s been quite a ride.
Here I am, diploma in hand, nearly four years since the medallion ceremony in which I was told that my odds of marrying another Grinnellian were significantly higher than those of marrying my biggest celebrity crush (at the time, 1980s John Cusack); four years since I first ate breakfast in the dining hall with three guys from tutorial who later morphed into three of my closest friends; four years since I ran my first of many unseasonably warm runs with my cross country teammates along the rolling Iowan hillside.
It’s been almost four years since my first PEC shower, my first Grinnellian crush, my first of many Oreo cyclones from Dari Barn, my first bakery run, and my first day as a dining services employee when I accidentally dropped six cents into the cup of coffee that a professor had just purchased.
Over the past four years I’ve shopped at the local farmer’s market, eaten approximately 1,500 pounds of crispy fried tofu from Choung Garden (my all-time favorite meal on this planet — for serious), swung on the swings at Merrill Park, and watched a friend give a research presentation in Chinese even though I don’t speak Chinese. I’ve baked a lot of cookies, written a lot of papers, lounged on a lot of rooftops, and played a lot of Ani DiFranco on my iTunes.
During my time at Grinnell, I’ve worn rainbow suspenders, a maroon unitard, a unicorn hat, a rainbow beanie, and my fair share of gaudy spandex. At various parties I’ve rocked out to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” rocked out harder to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and found ways to make music deemed undanceable by many very danceable indeed.
As an Iowa resident, I’ve visited the bridges of Madison County, run the bases of the Field of Dreams field, sat in the world’s largest rocking chair, and used the bathroom at the world’s largest truck stop. As a study abroad participant I managed to contract dengue fever despite the safety my mosquito net and insect repellant theoretically provided.
As a Grinnell student I have flown kites naked as a study break during finals week, ridden dorm mattresses down the stairs in academic buildings, studied in the library without pants, participated in wheelie chair races in Noyce, explored an abandoned building in town, taken midnight bike rides off campus, taken a dip in the pond beyond the college president’s house in January, attempted to sit on every bench on campus (a work in progress), and engaged in silent dance parties outside of Burling.
And at the core of all these experiences, through every class attended, every test taken, and every paper researched, through every all-nighter and excursion to the dining hall, every concert, play, presentation, lecture, and sporting event, were some of the finest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with. I’m talking about the kindest, kookiest, most intelligent, most compassionate people I could ever have imagined into existence. People who have inspired me to be a better person, challenged some of my most steadfast opinions and beliefs, picked me up when I was down, and giggled incessantly with me every time a giggle was warranted (which was often).
I love the individuals who have made up my Grinnell experience, to quote whoever originally coined the phrase, “with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.”*
All of which won’t burn out for at least 5 billion years or so.
So as that oh-so-recent Grinnell grad who is both excited to approach a new world of untapped possibility and nostalgic for the community she’s leaving behind, I’d like to send out an invitation. If you’re kind and inquisitive, passionate and loving, open minded and open hearted, you might want to consider spending a few years at Grinnell. It just might be the ride you’re looking for.
*I most recently saw this expression used in a campus newspaper article written by John Guittar ’07 in September 2005, used, unsurprisingly, to express his love for Grinnell students. I feel it is appropriate to credit him here.
Erin Sindewald '08 is an English major from Orland Park, Illinois.