A group of girls pose together on the roof of the Oread hotel

Opinion columnist Haley Czuma and her friends pose together on the rooftop terrace of The Oread Hotel. 

Haley Czuma is an opinion columnist for The University Daily Kansan. Hailing from Chicago, Czuma will graduate this month with a degree in English creative writing.

Haley Czuma smiles for a half-length portrait

Czuma, a senior from Chicago, will receive her degree in English creative writing this month. 

About a month into attending the University of Kansas, I called my mom crying, telling her I felt like I did not belong here. I sat in the parking lot across from my dorm, thinking of every reason under the sun for why I should transfer. I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone. I felt cagey and landlocked by the Kansas plains that seemed to never end. I decided to stick it out for the semester and revisit the thought come the next semester.

Well, I stuck it out for four years, and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. The truth was I hadn’t found my people or my place when I thought I had. I had only scratched the surface of what this place had to offer for me and looked the other way when I felt like there was nothing else. I was so wrong. KU has brought me so much more than I could have ever thought it would. It brought me a new sense of self and independence, some of my best friends and memories with them, even my dog. It gave me the opportunity to travel to places I have only ever dreamed of being able to go to. More importantly, it gave me a voice through the Kansan. 

I have wanted to be a writer since the seventh grade, yet I had always been so timid when it came to actually sharing that dream with the world. I never shared what I wrote unless I had to because I never felt as if it were strong enough to share. When I was approached a year ago by a friend to write for the Kansan, I was almost taken aback. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to write for a publication like the Kansan. It’s given me the chance to voice my unapologetic opinion through an outlet that is so unique in its kind. 

I made a vow to myself at the beginning of this year that I would go out even when I didn’t really feel like it, go on weekend trips with friends even if I didn’t really have the money to do it, and be present with those who had impacted my life the most here at KU because this was our last run. I am so happy that I did. I think it is safe to say for everyone, our senior year did not end the way we had all imagined it to end. Leaving KU is so bittersweet; it’s not been all sunshine and butterflies, but it has all been worth it. 

I came here with completely different expectations for myself than I am leaving with. Sometimes, it feels like the evolution of me really began here. Never did I think I would be sitting here missing sunsets over the Kansas plains. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey, and thank you to the Kansan for allowing me to run my loud mouth every week. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I’m on my way there.

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