Since I’m writing this series of posts for readers who don’t know me in real life, those of you that do can probably just skip this post. You already know that Zach and I are big Illinois fans. 🙂 If you’re just getting to know me, Zach and I both attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He studied History education and I majored in Architecture.
I was never one of those kids who always dreamed of one certain school- my parents grew up in Indiana and both went to Purdue, but since that was out of state, it was never really on my radar as a possible candidate. I toured the campus with my mom as a junior in high school but it wasn’t until I went on an overnight visit with an older friend (a few weeks before the decision due date!) that I decided U of I was the school for me.
I moved into a dorm at the beginning of my freshmen year and was blessed with the best roommate anyone could ever hope to have. We hit it off right away and I still consider her to be one of my best friends even if we rarely see each other! The girls on our floor all quickly bonded and there was never a shortage of people to accompany to dinner, watch weekend marathons of “Anne of Green Gables”, or plan and execute elaborate pranks on the boys’ side of the floor with.
Architecture is a demanding, time-consuming, and challenging major that taught me about design, drafting, computer skills, math, engineering, environmental and social science, history, and more. I really believe that it is one of the most well-rounded educations I could have gotten. And all-nighters in the studio forge strong and unique bonds with your classmates. The friends I made in my freshmen classes are still some of my best- one was our best man (and part of the reason that I met Zach!), another was one of my bridesmaids. In school, we studied together, helped each other reach deadlines, ordered cookies in the middle of the night to studio, spent beautiful afternoons on the quad together… I wouldn’t trade those memories or friendships for anything.
After my sophomore year, I studied abroad for the summer in Spain. THAT experience definitely deserves it own post but definitely contributes to the litany of reasons I love my alma mater. As a junior, I was an RA. It was definitely not my favorite job but again, the experience led to some incredibly rich friendships for which I will always be thankful. I played intramural softball and enjoyed the occasional football game with my dad on Dad’s weekend. I loved eating cinnamon rolls and watching Alias for a whole weekend with my sister when she came to visit me once. I took my mom to the flower show, craft show, and Black Chorus concert every year on Mom’s weekend.
And of course, U of I is where I met Zach. He likes to tell it as he was roommates with my ex-boyfriend- which is technically true- but the whole story is much longer. For now, I’ll leave it as we met our freshmen year through mutual friends (one of which was my ex from high school) and our friendship eventually turned to dating. There are dozens of spots on campus that remind me of moments in our relationship- most notably, the Arboretum where he asked me out and then a year and half later, he proposed. (Then we had our engagement photos taken there too!) He turned me into a Illini basketball fan and once we were married, we had season tickets for 2 years. (We still would except we live too far away now!)
I could go on and on… but I’ll leave it there for now. And I’ll share one of my favorite pictures from U of I’s campus… this was taken last fall when my sister and I- both grads of U of I went to visit my freshman brother and had the opportunity to spend a perfect afternoon laughing and talking on the quad together. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that: