Every year we’re reminded what Homecoming is really about—welcoming home alumni.
This sentiment tends to get lost in the crowds covering every square inch of Aberdeen. For a lot of us, Homecoming is synonymous with crazed street parties and little else.
Even though this was my third Homecoming, this year felt different. Though the event itself was jarring as students, adorned in Queen’s colours, flooded Aberdeen and police lined the streets handing out tickets, this was the first year I saw beyond the parties and thought about the alumni who returned for Homecoming festivities.
In my first couple weeks at Queen’s, everyone was asking the standard questions. I was inundated with basic questions about my program, what residence I was in, and where I was from. While the list of basic questions went on, occasionally someone would ask why I chose Queen’s.
This question always threw me for a loop because I didn’t really have an answer. I chose Queen’s by chance. When I’d pose the question back, as one usually does, the answer I almost always got was “my parents went here.”
At first, I thought it was a bit unusual for someone to choose Queen’s solely because their parents went here, but of course there were several other factors. I couldn’t fathom how someone could love their university so much that their child would also want to attend the same school.
I couldn’t understand why people would come back for Homecoming. I was a little concerned with the amount of people I thought were trying to relive their university experience. Personally, I wouldn’t make the trip back to Kingston just to do a keg stand in some random student’s backyard.
Looking back, I realize this judgement was a little uncalled for. A lot of my judgement came from me not enjoying my time at Queen’s, which has thankfully changed since then. Although the chances of me attending Homecoming in 11 years are slim, I now understand why people do.
My friend, whose parents are both alumni, had almost her entire family here for this year’s Homecoming. My friends and I met her dad, ArtSci ’90—his faculty and year proudly displayed on his faded red jacket—and even his best friend which he met during his undergrad, who my friend later referred to as Uncle Russ.
Her dad shared some stories from his undergrad, including the time he met her mom, and some of his favourite memories with Uncle Russ—most of which were a little too crazy to share, but memorable nonetheless.
This brief interaction altered my entire perspective on Homecoming. It reminded me that university is a once in a lifetime experience, and a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. University isn’t just about earning a degree; it’s also about forging memories with close friends and fostering long-lasting relationships.
While I’m here to get an education, I’m also here to make memories with some of my closest friends, all of whom I’ve made in my two and half years here at Queen’s.
Hearing my friend’s dad share his stories gave me a much-needed sense of hope and a life to look forward to after I eventually leave Kingston. Homecoming serves as proof that friendships can exist beyond the confines of university life. They may require more effort, especially since we won’t see our friends every day the way we might in Kingston, but it’s still feasible to maintain strong bonds.
While it may sound cliché and is by no means ground-breaking, Homecoming is about more than just the parties. It’s about the memories, the stories, the laughter, and even the challenges.
As students, we hear all the time how memories made during our time at university—both good and bad—will stick with us for the rest of our lives. Though I was skeptical, hearing my friend’s dad speak about his time at Queen’s solidified this notion.
I’m just over halfway done my undergrad, and I already have a lifetime’s worth of memories. I look forward to the day when I can tell my children about my time at Queen’s.
Though I don’t see myself ever coming back for Homecoming, I look forward to the moments where I can reminisce with my friends about our life at university.
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