The first semester of my second year at Darden is coming to a close, and recruiting is over. I’ve accepted an offer from a consulting firm (just today, in fact) and am now content to relax a bit, finish up the last few weeks of exams and projects, and make plans to travel, surf, sleep, and generally relax during the three big breaks left: winter break, spring break, and next summer.

Already, the nostalgia is beginning to set in, even though there’s a full six months left until graduation. You see, I really had a good time as an undergraduate student. Excited about graduation and what lie ahead, I was surprised when I became emotional on my final drive home from Penn State. That was six years ago, and now I suppose I wary of being taken by surprise again… of underestimating the true value and wonderful nature of higher education and the environment it engenders. I know that I have built relationships and friendships that will last for the remainder of my life, as I did as an undergraduate student and again as an Army officer.

We’ve been told more than once that, for the vast majority of us, this is our final academic experience. I hate to think that’s true for me. I just really like being in a classroom. I recognize the value of learning through experience… believe me, it is the best learning laboratory one could benefit from. Nonetheless, there’s something to the innately selfish act of concentrating solely on one’s own personal and professional development for a while.

Of course, returning to the real world and the workforce doesn’t have to be the “tunnel”… but I don’t think it will ever be as bright, at least for me, as that which I enjoy while living the life of a student. If I had my druthers, and deep pockets, I would emulate the great American hero, Van Wilder, who as a 26 year old undergraduate student valiantly resisted the urge to graduate and finally grow up. But, alas, Peter Pan is a fairytale, and Neverland doesn’t really exist, even in Charlottesville, VA. Now I’ll focus on enjoying the fantasy for the next six months, and figuring out a way to make my way back for a doctorate sometime in the future.

A digression if I may (and I may, because this is my blog): If you see one movie this year, it should be Slumdog Millionaire, the Dickensian film by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting fame) about a young Indian from the Mumbai slums who is somehow winning millions of rupees on a quiz show even though he lacks the formal education normally required to know the answers to the questions. A love story in disguise, this movie warms ones heart and is especially poignant in the wake of the recent tragic terrorist attack in Mumbai… a city that strikes me as as close to Victorian London as is possible in the modern world, and an inviting city that I will most assuredly visit as soon as possible.

If you see a second movie, see Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. If you think all high school drama/comedies are unrealistic and just plain awful (as I did), this film will restore your faith in the things that really matter in high school (and for that matter, life): love, faith, and music.

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