Exactly eight months, one week, and four days ago, I walked into an empty dorm room in Nashville, Tennessee, carrying a U-Haul’s worth of books, clothing, school supplies, and Ramen. In addition, I was probably carrying several invisible truckloads full of questions, anxiety, excitement, and dreams.

Today is April 30th. I am walking out of a empty door room in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m bringing back about a U-Haul’s worth of books, clothing, and school supplies, although I ate all the Ramen. But the best things I’m bringing back aren’t going to fit in there, so I thought I’d write about them here instead. These are the things I’m bringing back.

Going to Two Old Hippies was my first taste of quintessential Nashville. This ruby red guitar made me think of the reason I came to this city in the first place, being a girl who had Taylor Swift dreams since she was fifteen. I still have dreams of coming back to this store someday and shelling out $15K for it. Until then, I’m keeping this as a reminder that this is a city that will always be kind to the big dreamers.

Living in Wright/Maddox was such a cool experience. Confession: my first night in my dorm I cried because I felt like I had just signed up to live in a prison cell for an entire year. I totally didn’t think I had the guts to handle meeting new people. Turns out that I could, and did, and ended up loving it. Although I’m going to be in a gorgeous penthouse apartment next year, I’m not going to forget community showers, random date nights with the guys in Maddox, or college nights at Chick-Fil-A. Those are the moments that I’ll be carrying with me, forever.

Known as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”, it wasn’t hard to find a church to go to in Nashville. But I didn’t find a church: I found a family. The people that I’ve met at Forward have changed my life forever. Whether it was having service in a field because we got locked out of the school we meet in or serving homeless people under Jackson Bridge or playing with the world’s cutest kitten at worship practice on Thursdays, I’ve never been around a group of people who have helped me to know the love of God so much.

Living in Music City and going to a music school is one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve had this year. Sure, I’ve seen more bands than I know what to do with {Skrillex, Taylor Swift, Owl City, Maroon 5, Carrie Underwood, The Civil Wars, Zac Brown Band, Local Natives, Fun…it goes on forever} and it’s been unreal.

But I also got to experience the incredible talent of the many musicians here at Belmont. It’s been an inspiration to me as a musician to see so many talented people all in one place. In a place like Nashville it’s easy to feel like you’re just another musician. But at Belmont, the respect that everyone has for each other as artists is really inspiring. It’s music for the sake of music that makes me love it here.

I’ll admit that I’m a little more than in love with Belmont. And that’s because it really is all they said it was going to be. I’ve visited several other schools this year and for some reason, Belmont will always feel like home. And it’s not just because of our cool mascot, or the fact that we play real-life Slender on campus, or that Nashville comes and films at our school, or that we go to March Madness. It’s because even after eight months I can still walk up to someone I don’t know and make new friends. Belmont kids may be called out as hipster and overly musical, but I can’t say that there’s been a time where I didn’t feel like I was welcomed or loved.

Speaking of loved, someone that I will be bringing home, at least for a week, is this lovely angel, my roommate Danielle. I knew we were going to be perfect for each other when we found out we loved the same baking blog. Throughout this entire year, Danielle’s been with me through sickness and health, through Spring Break 2013 and Honors, through good times and bad. She inspires me every day with her love for life and people, she makes me laugh with her addiction to gum and tendency to spill things, and she makes me happy with the light she just exudes. I’m crazy about her, and she’s crazy enough to be living with me again next year!

And add these two to the dream team: Alessandra, the Peruvian supermodel, and Sarah, the Disney princess. They are some of the most amazing people I know AND they’re living with me next year. How did I ever get so lucky??

This red flannel shirt is probably my favorite piece of clothing from this year. I got it from Thriftsmart {where all the cool Nashville hipsters go} and it’s been with me through adventures where I almost died {like this one} or when I just needed to cuddle up and forget about the world. I have a feeling that I’ll be rocking this number when I’m a grandma and there’s absolutely no shame in that.

Speaking of college and actual academics…this was my favorite book that I read this year. The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama was a huge eye opener for me. Not only did it help me learn about a faith perspective outside of my own, but it was also a really good way to focus on the big questions in life: who am I and why am I here? Although I came to Belmont as an undeclared major, I’m leaving with some idea of what I’m doing {although I don’t think I’ll ever know exactly} which is really exciting. Currently I’m a double major in Social Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Environmental Studies and Mass Communications. Basically what I want to do is make the world a better place through social empowerment and environmental responsibility. What that’s going to look like in the long run is completely hazy, but I feel like this is what God’s put on my heart, and it’s really exciting.

So I’m leaving this city today. And these wonderful people. All these little moments that have come together and made something beautiful.

And I guess all I can say is…thank you.

Thank you to God for filling this entire year to John 10:10, for making it everything that I thought it would be and more. Throughout every high and low, every success and mistake, You were always there for me. Thanks for showing an eighteen year old from Wisconsin that no dream is ever too crazy enough to pursue.

Thank you to every person who’s made Nashville feel like home to me. Thank you for saying hi to me, for going to coffee with me, for playing music with me, for inspiring me, for making fun of my non-existent accent, for loving me when I needed it most.

You are a part of my story, and honestly, this has been my favorite chapter.

I love you, I love you, I love you.


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