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FRANSEN: The opportunities of pursuing the unplanned

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elena color sidedAs a chronic planner, calendars are survival tools and anticipating what’s ahead keeps me feeling in control of the present and the future. In the past, whenever a new semester’s class schedule was made available, I would jump at the chance to organize my classes just right so I would know what to anticipate.

Of course, I always had the habit of impulsively changing classes up until the last minute so all the early planning would be for nothing. I did not always stick to the original plan but often discovered some great things along the way.

My plans always sort of changed and generally for the better. Sure, expectations were dashed and there were disappointments, but some of the greatest parts of my college experience were not part of the original plan.

Coming to school, I thought I knew what I was going to do and where my four years would take me. I was going to be a communication studies major, study abroad for a semester and get some great internship experience. Thinking back on it, I was hopelessly idealistic and had no idea how unpredictable college would be.

None of those things really panned out. I switched out of the College of Communications before I could learn to pronounce Chioma Ugochuckwu and found myself passionate about and pursuing three different areas of study. These studies made taking a semester abroad tricky, but I was still able to go abroad during a summer. Came internships and fellowships, fulfilling at least one of the plans I had set out.

One thing I did not plan for that has had the greatest impact on me has been this: editing and writing for The Marquette Tribune.

While I had romanticized working for a college newspaper after watching Rory’s college years on “Gilmore Girls,” I never thought I would do it. Junior year, I applied on a whim to be a copy editor and it all just clicked. I kick myself for not joining sooner, but then I think about all that has happened to me and I know two years was enough.

At times the Tribune has been the bane of my existence, creating stress and more work when I would rather be sleeping or anywhere other than Johnston Hall. Weekly budgets, columns and editing dig into time that could be spent focusing on other plans or just relaxing in the last part of college.

The good experiences, however, far outweigh the bad ones. Some great, unplanned little miracles have come from my time spent with the Tribune. I met great people, honed some impressive time management skills and learned how to think on my feet when the rug was pulled out from underneath me, often repeatedly. Having the Tribune kept me from isolating myself during some hard times and I am grateful.

I didn’t plan for it, but it was something that greatly affected me in a positive way and I will definitely miss the opportunities it gave me to express and improve myself on a regular basis. The chance I took junior year paid off more than any of the plans I had freshman year.

So that’s my advice. Take a chance. Explore something you could never have planned and find out the possibilities. You don’t have to throw out your original plan but maybe you can tweak it a little.

For me, there are no more semesters to plan for, no more budgets to write and only a few more weeks of having a set schedule. The planner in me finds this incredibly scary, but it is also exciting to imagine what possibilities are out there that I have not even thought of yet.

Who knows what will be next, but if there’s another experience like the Trib out there for me, I’m game.

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