“Welcome aboard the plane train. Please hold on. This train is departing.” As cliche as it sounds, I could not help but be sentimental when hearing this automated message with one month of college left. Every routine action necessary for traveling — from ordering an Uber to boarding the plane — felt loftier, as this was my last time traveling home knowing I would still return to Emory University’s campus as a student.

The juxtaposition of flying home to attend an admitted students day at the University of Chicago (UChicago), where I will be attending law school in the fall, with only one month left at Emory also weighed on me. Any observation I made about UChicago’s campus was contextualized by a comparison to Emory. There was a stark contrast between UChicago’s gothic architecture and Emory’s marble buildings. The campus layout had a more urban and worldly ambiance compared to Emory, which feels more like a contained oasis. When hearing one student discuss their Texas upbringing and their parent’s occupation in the oil industry, I instantly thought of one of my best friends at Emory who is also from Texas and has a parent working in the oil industry. While embracing the years to come, my simultaneous reminiscence about the temporality of my time at Emory filled me with a sense of apprehension.

Courtesy of Madi Olivier

Viewing Emory as transient helped me persevere when I felt completely isolated during my first couple years of college. Starting college during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic engendered social challenges and desperation for a community at Emory, which I could not find at first. Out of some combination of luck and divine intervention, these arduous first few semesters ushered in two remarkable final years of college, where I served as editor-in-chief of The Emory Wheel and was a part of numerous campus organizations. Yet, as I was reflecting on my Emory experience while standing on UChicago’s campus, the smaller moments from college made me the most wistful.

Sitting in the back of the room to observe a law class brought me back to when a soon-to-be friend and I sat in the back corner of a classroom at Emory twice a week. Although we may have been lacking in class participation, our conversations were plentiful. Consequently, some of my favorite college memories are sitting in the back corner trying to not burst out laughing, which my friend and I managed to fail at during each class. Still, this class and our subsequent debriefs were the highlight of each week. While I did not retain much content from the course, at least I gained a friendship.

Touring apartment buildings was a particularly strange feeling made more acute by having been a resident advisor for Dobbs Hall the past two years. The idea of living on my own was not daunting, but rather leaving Dobbs behind. If there is one place at Emory that I could not imagine my college experience without, it is the Dobbs parlor. The late nights in the parlor facilitated two of my closest friendships at Emory, where trying to stop talking to them quickly became harder than my coursework as we formed inside jokes stemming from residents’ 2 a.m. conversations in the parlor or funny moments like a resident rollerblading across the room. I wrote thousands of words for my honors thesis and worked on numerous law school essays in this space with these friends by my side, and I could not have gotten through these stressors without them. I cannot — more so refuse — to acknowledge that my last night in Dobbs and living in the same building with these friends is about to end. 

While speaking with current students at UChicago, I frequently found myself craving some parallel between the Wheel and law school life. I repeatedly asked about the law journals and clinics, although I know nothing will be synonymous to the small moments I cherish from the Wheel. One of my closest friendships at Emory blossomed after Monday editor meetings, when a fellow editor transformed into my informal statistics tutor. Every day I look forward to a message from them related to our shared love for pop culture and Pittsburgh. Though the Wheel will not be replicable in law school, I know I will continue to enjoy these brief exchanges of pop culture information with this friend.

Despite the woeful underpinnings of my reminiscing about Emory while I visited my future school, I am joyful that these small moments remodeled my Emory experience into one that I do not want to leave behind. Although I am physically leaving my various communities at Emory, I am appreciative I have these small moments to hold onto as I begin my future endeavors.

Matthew Chupack (24C) is from Northbrook, Ill. and majored in religion and sociology and minored in community building and social change. At Emory University, he served as editor-in-chief of The Emory Wheel, vice president of Behind the Glass: Immigration Reflections, treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa, a member of the Emory College Honor Council, a Community Building and Social Change Fellow, a resident advisor in Dobbs Hall and was involved in Meor. After graduation, Chupack will attend the University of Chicago Law School.

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Editor-in-Chief | Matthew Chupack (he/him, 24C) is from Northbrook, Illinois, majoring in sociology & religion and minoring in community building & social change on a pre-law track. Outside of the Wheel, Chupack serves on the Emory College Honor Council, is vice president of Behind the Glass: Immigration Reflections, Treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society and an RA in Dobbs Hall. In his free time, he enjoys trying new restaurants around Atlanta, catching up on pop culture news and listening to country music.