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There’s something about being a full-time student that makes you want to get as far away from your university as you can every chance you get. So after finishing one of the hardest semesters of my university career, I decided to go hitchhiking. While I knew that, regardless of what happened, it would be an adventure, I didn’t know where I was going to sleep, what I would eat, or who I would meet. But by the time I reached San Francisco, I knew that there was something addictive about hitchhiking. It had its ups and downs, and more than a comfortable amount of terrifying situations, but it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. From sitting on a cliff in southern Oregon overlooking the Pacific Ocean while talking with my ride about his experience seeing Jimi Hendrix live at Woodstock, to eating tacos in a small town in northern California with a Mexican marijuana farmer / tattoo artist, the people I met made every awful moment along the way worth it.
I had already travelled a lot on my own, but hitchhiking was something new. Having just finished the winter semester and being broke made it the only possible way to travel, but it was more than that. I wanted to try something different, to meet new people, and, most of all, see if I could actually do it.
It was during my trip that I applied to be the editor-in-chief of The Cascade. I was sitting in the common room of a hostel in downtown San Francisco with the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever had when I finally sent in my application. I had my hesitations, but after making it all the way there, more than 1,500 kilometres from home with nothing but a backpack, I finally felt that I was ready, or at least as ready as I would ever be.
Even though in that moment I felt as if I could take on anything, I still had no idea what to expect taking on the position. In my two years working for The Cascade I had worked with three different editors-in-chief, and it wasn’t hard to figure out that taking on the position would be extremely time-consuming, challenging, and, most of all, one of the most stressful years of my life. But similar to hitchhiking, I have some control over what happens over the next year. While I can only hope for the best, I can choose my direction and (most) of what happens along the way. It still feels like I’m heading into new territory with nothing but a backpack, but this time, I’m not 1,500 km away from the people I need to make sure that this year is a success.
This isn’t very different from every student’s university experience. We start university with positive expectations, knowing deep down that things can, and probably will, go horribly wrong at times, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. There will be moments where we wonder what the hell we’re doing and why we even bothered with university in the first place, but when it’s finally over and we have a degree, we’ll be glad we did it.
It didn’t take long for me to learn that working at The Cascade would be different from any other job I’d ever had. Having just finished my first year at UFV, I still felt eager to take on whatever university threw my way. At that time I had no idea that the paper would become my life over the next two years, and even more so in the year to come. It hasn’t always been easy and there have been a few of those terrifying situations along the way, but it’s the people I’ve met and the sense of belonging that have made it worth it.
One of my main goals as editor-in-chief is to bring back the community environment that attracted me to The Cascade in the first place. While student newspapers exist to inform students about what’s happening on their campus, they also serve as a training ground for anyone interested in writing and design, and most importantly, a way to get involved and meet people on campus. This was what has kept me at The Cascade over the past two years, and is what I hope will attract more students to it in the future.
While I still don’t know what to expect from the year ahead of me, I know that it will be a rewarding one. I know that it’ll be tough and full of its own terrifying situations, but at the end, in the words of a young Eddie Vedder, I’ll (hopefully) be able to say “I’m still alive.”