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I’ve never been one for big milestone events. I don’t remember my Sweet 16 and I never had a graduation party. Heck, I had to leave early from my senior prom, which is also supposed to be one of those big lifetime events.

I don’t really like dwelling on the past or conjuring up reasons to be sad for moving on; as a junior, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about Hey Day. On the one hand, you could say it’s the beginning of a year-long countdown to “real life.” But it’s also the opening ceremony to the pinnacle of our collegiate careers.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word heyday as “the period of one’s greatest success, activity or vigour.” I don’t know if the event founders intended that double entendre, but I know that Hey Day — or for that matter, my time as an undergraduate — isn’t the highlight of my life. I’m way too young to have peaked already, so I’m going to make a bold statement here and say I’m looking forward not just to senior year, but also graduation.

What I like about Hey Day is that it’s a celebration of moving on, moving up, getting on with things and being excited about the future. It’s not really celebrating a beginning or an end — it technically celebrates both and neither one, because even though you’re ending your junior year and starting your senior year, that still leaves you smack-dab in the middle of college.

I know Hey Day means my days at Penn are numbered, and I’m making a bucket list of sorts for my last year. Maybe it’s sad that I have to make that list, but I think it’s a good thing. If I didn’t have that looming deadline of graduation in a year, I’d probably never get around to doing those great things I just haven’t gotten around to. I’m planning on packing in a lot next year, but I’m not particularly anxious about my last year at Penn.

Most seniors go on and on about the terribleness of graduating. But deep down they’re excited to go on and do amazing things too. Moving on is a great thing in life, and I love that Friday is an entire day to commemorate it. Hey Day is not like graduation, which seems like more of a celebration of ending than beginning. Hey Day is untainted with the finality of leaving college — we have everything to look forward to, and that includes the years beyond senior year.

People trump up senior year to be a last hurrah before leaving the glorious Penn bubble and entering “real life.” And I guess it is that on some level, but it’s not a definitive end to anything. If you want to stay in Philadelphia, you can. If you want to stay in school, you can. The only thing you can’t control is that your friends won’t all be conveniently located within a few blocks. There’s definitely something to be said for that. But I’d argue there’s even more to look forward to in finally being out on your own. Who knows, maybe I’ll retract that statement when I reach this point next year, but for now, I’m feeling anything but sad and nostalgic.

So am I finally excited for this milestone? Absolutely. I can’t wait for Hey Day itself — to celebrate with seniors and the rest of my class. I also can’t wait for the year that’s going to follow it — to soak up the last glorious year of Penn as an undergraduate — and for all the years after that in which we all will hopefully reach our actual heyday.

So here’s to Hey Day and senior year … and beyond.

Katherine Rea is a College junior from Saratoga, Calif. Her e-mail address is Rea-lity Check appears on Fridays.

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