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So after five long years, this is what it comes down to. I’ve got about two more weeks before I graduate, and find myself tossed into the post-graduate world. I have to say that I’ve had an eventful time here at Irvine. The school definitely lives up to its reputation, as the campus I leave behind looks quite different from the one I entered as a freshman. I like to think that I’ve had a pretty encompassing experience here. I’ve lived in Middle Earth, Campus Village, Vista Del Campo Norte, Stanford and was eventually forced to move back home for a year and taste commuter life, so I’ve encountered varied aspects of the school that many may never know.

My time at the newspaper has been interesting as well. I was a photographer my entire time through, finishing off my last year as the photo editor. You know what’s odd? Every photo editor whom I’ve had the privilege to work under had never once mentioned the photo team in the farewell article. I’d like to change that by giving a big shout-out to all of my New University photographers: you guys made my job so easy, it was almost like I didn’t even need to be around at all. You are all awesome at your craft and I hope that you will keep doing photography in the future.

I originally had planned to rant about all the things that have irritated me about this school during the time that I was here, but after reading over everything, I decided I didn’t want to look back and see that I left this place on a sour note (I will say this though: Why the HELL is there only ONE Bank of America ATM and TWO Wells Fargo? That’s just ridiculous).

Instead, I’m just going to recount some stories of why I’ve enjoyed myself at the school we all came to because we didn’t get into Berkeley/UCLA/UC San Diego or whatever.

During the first finals week of my freshmen year, about 11 dorm mates and I got really into Warcraft III again. We’d stay up until about 4 a.m. in the morning playing these epic 6 vs. 6 matches, yelling across rooms and causing a ruckus until the wee hours of the morning. After each match we’d all meet in one room to watch the replays and laugh at all the random nonsense that was going on (apparently not everyone knew that you need a GHOUL to harvest lumber when playing undead). I guess the only problem with our gaming extravaganzas was that we decided to conduct them during finals week. Needless to say, our GPAs were not very high that quarter (I managed to sleep through a final myself … just don’t tell my parents).

My second year, the band I’d just started playing in managed to get into the UC Irvine Battle of the Bands. Bad idea on our part, and their part, considering it was the second time we’d ever played live. Everyone was off time, the sound levels were all wrong, and I’m pretty sure I was out of tune for every song after the first. I cringe thinking back to that night, but it’s kind of one of those memories that you just look back and laugh at.

This past summer I had the chance to essentially sneak into Saddleback Church to take pictures of Barack Obama and John McCain, standing next to hordes of professional photographers as I held my pathetically small (compared to everyone else’s) lens, while wearing jeans and slip-on checkered Vans. I got the shot, so I guess I must have done something right.

Irvine gets a lot of slack for being boring, or for being a commuter school or whatever, but I feel like I’ve had such a good time here that I just don’t see it. I feel confident that I’ll look back and have few regrets (one being not asking out that cute girl on the dance team sooner, live and learn!). I’ve met some incredible people (I never did get to talk to you in person red-headed girl with the affinity for Mel Brooks quotes) whose friendship I hope to have for years to come. I’ve also been a part of a volleyball team that’s gone all the way twice, a baseball team that has exceeded most of our expectations and a basketball team that, while always seeming to face heartbreak in the end, was always fun to follow.

So to you fellow ’Eaters, I say walk around your school with pride, and hold high that mantle of the anteater, because UCI is a place of distinction, and will continue to be one in years to come. And at least we didn’t go to Riverside. Zot!

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