Outside the Oreo

Lauren Piro

I graduate in 115 days.

Sorry, seniors, did I scare you? Just breathe and return to counting down the minutes to a hopefully free Friday, or at least an empty bar stool by six. Oh, and hear me out.

It has become obvious to me that as this number dwindles, the more advice I, and I’m sure all other seniors, are receiving. Tell Grandma you’re graduating in May and she beams and tells you not to grow up too fast. Your dad’s co-worker? You’ll get a firm shoulder grab and a smugly cliché “So you’ll be looking for a job, then?” And your mom? Well, mom just cries – or ticks off the days on her own calendar with a grin, depending on which mom-type raised you.

Also, again and again, many of us have heard sage words imploring us to cherish these final days at ‘Nova-that they are the best days of our lives and we will never get this time back. I’ve had family friends, professionals and Villanova alumni all offer me this exact nugget of wisdom, ranging from “make sure you remember to have fun this year” to “I wish every day I was back in college.”

I tend to brush off the more mild pleas, but the latter is branded in a dark corner of my brain. My heart palpitates when I remember it is there, and my amount of worry about my uncertain future peaks for a moment.

Yes, I had always known that my college days were something to be appreciated, but wasn’t I ultimately working

toward something more? Or, dare I say, something better?

At the end of the fall semester, I posted on a career-related message board, asking those who had found success in my chosen – or, rather, potential – field whether or not it would be beneficial for me take on another internship in the spring. Some respondents called me out on angling for an excuse to act like a bump on a log for my last three months as a kid (only half true, really) rather than “explore other options on my campus,” as I had put it (the other half of the truth – I am writing this column, am I not?).

But again, someone’s words continued nag at me. One poster told me I should absolutely intern – that she never regrets the things she did in college, but rather the things she didn’t do.

I could wake up every morning and repeat the mantra “appreciate this day; you only have so many left,” but that would not be enough. If I allowed my slumbering self to hit the snooze button until noon each day and to indulge in nothing but bad reality television until dinner time, I wouldn’t be taking advantage of my time left at ‘Nova. I wouldn’t be doing anything.

So, as a sort of New Year’s resolution to myself (and to you all, my fellow Villanovans), I’ve decided to do, see and experience as much as I can within Philly and its Main Line before I don that cap and gown in 115 days. And to repudiate all fear that my resolve will be going by the wayside like that of “lose 50 pounds by Senior Dinner Dance” or “write the great American novel,” I will be committed to writing to you here about my adventures and exploits in all things outside the Villanova bubble.

Too often I hear the laments of ‘Nova students looking for more to do in the area that doesn’t involve crowding Connelly Center couches with laptops and cheese fries or making the thrilling trek to CVS for mascara, tissues and Solo cups. Too often Villanova’s stone walls that seem to say, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here without a WildCard” keep students from knowing of the historic and vibrant city in which they have chosen to spend four integral years of their lives. And too often do students really decide to look for what the people, places and events outside of 800 East Lancaster Avenue can offer them.

That’s where I come in. Each week, I’ll offer my thoughts on a new experience I had outside of class, clubs and dining halls and invite you to do the same. Maybe I’ll attend an art exhibit. Maybe I’ll sign up for guitar lessons in Old City. Maybe I’ll shave my head and chronicle the best places to avoid cranial frostbite and the looks I get from Philly passersby. Or not.

What do you want to get out of the Main Line before you leave it? What gem of this city do you feel you haven’t found yet? What would you love to see me explore? I’d love to hear from you, and as a serial e-mail checker, I’d also love to reply.

Today is the day I invite you to start over, and start doing all of those items you’ve left yellowing on your to-do list for too long. Join me, and this could be the most worthwhile semester you’ve had yet – even for those planning on exiting with pomp and circumstance in May.