University of Wisconsin–Madison

Fifth Grade Me Would Be Proud

In fifth grade, my whole grade took a weekend trip to Camp Timberlee. I was terrified. I loved the comfort of home. Yet once I got there, running around at night and climbing the rock wall and playing with ferrets and snakes in the animal area was worth all the fear. Although the more I think about it, I worry for my 5th grade cool factor if I liked the snakes and ferrets so much.

In Wyoming, there was a lake surrounded by mountains and tall trees. A rock hanging over the lake was covered with people ready to jump in the cold water. While people were doing flips off the rock, for some reason I was paralyzed and very convinced I would be the one to be too cold and forget how to swim. I didn’t even have a cool fear of a huge Perch Lake monster, the cold water itself was the monster. As I later waded in the water off an actual shore I tried to pretend I was fine that I didn’t jump, but I couldn’t hide my disappointment. My shoulders were hunched and the feet were shuffling. I was very much a cartoon character of someone moping.

On Saturday, I’m getting on a plane and moving to London. I’d like to think it’s a figurative five month long jump into that cold Wyoming water. (Although a literal jump strongly stands on my bucket list.)

All that I leave behind back home is offset by the complete confidence I have that greatness is over there in any way it works out.

Life is moving forward with opportunity and beauty. The great unknown is really great.

I haven’t really packed yet, I don’t know who I’ll meet, or the places I’ll see, or how to use the Underground, but that early fear is fading away and all is very bright.

The people at Wisconsin I love started with borrowing poster tape, going to a random house party and seeing “that girl from my dorm floor,” a Facebook message question about an assignment we actually already knew all the details of. My love for Madison started with driving up Observatory on my tour and feeling a tug in my heart. Plus the cheese curds.

Simple beginnings grow into such deep comfort you forget a time when they didn’t exist at all. I am in the big “before” of my trip. I leave knowing that come May, comfort will have expanded to London. Even without the cheese curds.

I bet fifth grade me would be proud.