The juxtaposition of warm weather calling students to the Terrace during finals season feels like an evil trick. But, as 70 degree days become more abundant, the true spirit of summer in Madison comes alive.
With only three weeks left in the semester, some students are gearing up to go home for the summer, only to return in the fall. Others are preparing to stay on campus for the upcoming months. Either way, there is a noticeable uptick in the mood of college students during the warmer, non-school-ridden months of May to August.
Unlike most first-year students, I lived in Madison the summer after my freshman year. So, when the grass finally started to green up and school came to a close, I began to feel lost. Who was I in Madison without school? And who was I during the summer without my hometown? These questions and others of the like frequently circulated in my brain.
I was going through a summer identity crisis.
The first crisis I grappled with was living in Madison while actively not participating in classes. I was still a student, technically speaking, but without the constant late night studying, immense stress and hours of homework, I found myself with a lot more free time. To combat the boredom I began to feel, I tried to explore new parts of Madison. I became more familiar with the city and no longer relied on Google Maps to go from my apartment to the grocery store. I began to take walks and bike rides more frequently. I explored the farmers market and did all of the activities I was too busy to do during the school year. Eventually, Madison no longer felt like the city that I attended college in; it began to feel like my home.
The latter part of my twofold identity crisis was the constant feeling of being uprooted. I no longer had the comfort of my suburban neighborhood and the quick three minute drive to my best friend's house. I felt out of place. As the summer progressed, I became more comfortable with the idea of being in Madison while being out of school. A certain feeling of comfort began to unfold. I developed a routine: go to work, go for a walk, go to bed — over and over and over again. Finally, I began to feel rooted in Madison which, to me, displayed the power of change. Just as a tree needs time to adjust to its new environment, I needed time to adjust to my new life in Madison.
Presently, I have held my job for a little over a year. I now have favorite paths to walk and favorite coffee shops to study in. I am more rooted than ever. I finally feel at home in Madison. So, as the semester comes to an end and summer ramps up, I encourage the students who may feel a little lost without school to go out and explore Madison. In a city with this much life, there is always something to do. The warm weather will invite you into parts of the city you may have never seen. Madison truly is the best place to be during the summer — or during an identity crisis.