Twenty years ago I arrived on the University of Guelph campus with several boxes full of most of my earthly possessions. Those that stayed behind at my parents’ house were, I thought, either unimportant, or not befitting the hallowed halls of my new home away from home.
As my parents dropped me off at Mills hall, I remember feeling nervous and excited. University was a giant unknown. Will I be able to handle the courses? What if I don’t fit in at UofG? My roommates were, save for a short phone conversation earlier in the summer, strangers. Will we get along? What if they think I’m some sort of weirdo? The City of Guelph was completely new to me. What if I don’t like it here? What the hell is a Guelph anyway?
I learned answers to most of those questions rather quickly. Orientation week was enough to make me realize that the University of Guelph was the right choice for me. And while I wasn’t as successful in some of my courses as I should have been, I still managed to do well. Beyond that, I found a group of people who not only accepted me for me, they helped me strive for the best version of me.
My roommates through the years ran the spectrum of weird and wonderful to just plain weird. There were those who locked themselves in closets whenever company came by, and those whom I woke to find standing awkwardly staring at me in the dark1. More importantly, however, there were those roommates who were (and remain) the most amazing and closest friends I could ever ask to have.
And as for the City of Guelph, how could I not fall in love with it? It was easy to see even twenty years ago that Guelph was and is unique. The people, the culture, the Guelph-iness of it is like nothing I’ve ever experienced anywhere else.
If you had asked the 20-year-ago-me where I’d be 20 years later, I’m not sure I would have answered Guelph. Nor would I have expected to be working as an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science. I wouldn’t have imagined the changes that have happened on campus (does anyone remember the Chemistry & Microbiology building, the Barn, or when the Bullring was a club?), nor those that have happened around the city. So many physical changes to an amazing University and an amazing City.
And yet, despite all the changes on and off campus, the University and the City haven’t lost the Guelph-iness that makes them what they are. In fact, it seems that they’ve both become even better versions of themselves. This isn’t just happenstance. It’s the result of so many people who care about what happens here. The City is a haven for volunteers. The University students are constantly striving to improve the world in new and amazing ways. With each passing year I see more and more people getting involved, making a difference, being awesome.
Being awesome – it seems to be the life-blood of our city.
I’m damn lucky to call Guelph my home. After 20 years, I can’t say I regret a thing. Well, except for maybe my hair and style choices.
1 I wish that were a joke.