Four words can sum up my past summers: Eat. Play. Sleep. Repeat.
Even though that seems like a cheesy slogan on a marked-down T-shirt, it was true. Besides the occasional family vacation or summer job, I usually do nothing but waste time. Bored, I wish to see the classroom again.
That was not the case this summer.
Instead, I found myself waking up at 6 a.m. to memorize a section of the AP stylebook, then scream it out loud at startled joggers (don’t question it). I found myself snapping photos from a DSLR camera, something I never even dreamed of holding before. I found myself stopping strangers on the street and holding conversations with them, a feat that seemed impossible with my shy personality. I found myself immersed in the world of journalism where everything is “held to a professional standard.”
I found myself at Medill cherubs.
It was exactly what I expected. I knew I was getting myself into an intense five-week journalism summer program that would make my past two years of “journalistic experience” seem like a childish achievement. I knew that I would be able to talk with professionals from investigative journalism to entertainment broadcasting. I knew that I would complete the program as a more knowledgeable student and skilled journalist in writing, designing and most importantly, reporting. What I didn’t know was how much fun I would have. I mean, who would expect rewriting news story ledes over and over again at a summer camp to be fun?
They said it would be the best summer of my life.
I did not expect that. At midnight, I normally lie in bed with my phone, wishing I could be doing something fun. But I was singing at the top of my lungs along with 17 other guys my age — more like screaming — the lyrics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. How could a group of nerds like me, who would be willing to talk with you about a newspaper design, be so much fun?
Over the course of the program, I would find myself sitting on the painted rocks of the Lakefill, waiting for the sun to rise with my friends. I found myself wandering through the streets of Evanston looking for a bite with a group of brunch enthusiasts. I found myself dancing to “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira while people cheered for my team and me in a karaoke contest.
I found myself enjoying every single moment of the program, wishing for it to never end. I got more than what I bargained for. Suddenly, I found myself.
They were right. It was the best summer of my life.