I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about all the things I have to do before I graduate.
I have to pack and return my textbooks and figure out how I’m going to fit my entire life in my car so I can move halfway across the country. I have to go to my last classes and eat at all the restaurants I didn’t make it to over the past four years.
And I have to start saying goodbye.
This column is really my first real goodbye. I still have time with my friends and professors, but as I write this, sitting on the dirty carpet of The Alligator office, I know it is the last time I'll ever do it. And it’s sad.
I never thought I would be sad about leaving The Alligator. Anyone who knows me knows I have threatened to quit every week since I started working here a little under two years ago. For the first month I worked here, I hated it. I couldn’t keep up with the pace, and I was discouraged by how many edits my stories were getting. I felt lonely in an office full of people.
But then something changed. I started to make friends. My writing got better. The dread I felt going into the office three times a week morphed into a neutral feeling, and sometimes I was even enjoying it.
I went from leaving as soon as I could to staying until the paper was sent off. I made friends with the people I worked with and accepted their invitations to go out. I even sang karaoke with them once or twice.
I remember sitting in my apartment working on a breaking story and looking at the people I was working with and thinking how happy I was that I had finally found my place at UF.
To say I loved every moment from then on would be a huge lie, and therefore a fact error. It was hard. I cried a lot. I fought with my editors and was probably too mean to my writers.
But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If I could do it all over again, I would.
The Alligator gave me some of my best friends in the world. It gave me a reason to try and be the best I could be. It offered me an escape during some of the lowest moments of my life.
So, here’s to the first of many goodbyes. The Alligator is the best of the best, and I’m honored to have been a small part of its history.
Alyssa Feliciano is a UF journalism senior. She was Audience Director at The Alligator.