Written by Chip Fankhauser
Hello, readers. If you don’t know me, my name is Chip Fankhauser, and I’m a senior with a double degree track with a BS in Mathematics and a BA in Writing. Sounds fancy, right? You might think that, with a degree plan like that (or, like, any degree plan at all), I have my whole life together. Unfortunately, dear reader, that could not be further from the truth.
My current best prospect is applying to grad school for an advanced math degree, but that’s really just a move to delay the inevitable absorption into the capitalist hellscape of America. Basically, I want to be as dramatic about getting on my own phone plan and car insurance as I possibly can.
As I face the impending existential horror of growing up, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my time here at TCU. Coming to university as someone who didn’t love high school, I surprised myself when I realized I was having fun. I got involved in organizations that enriched my life, took classes I was actually interested in, and had fun for the first time in ages.
I am quickly approaching a precipice at which there is no turning back. The next chapter in my life is exciting, scary, and unknown. I’m looking forward to not living in a dorm and having my own kitchen, where I could learn to cook (but probably will just microwave frozen meals anyway). I’m looking forward to my family judging my interior decorating choices in my first apartment. Mostly, I’m looking forward to having Neely-type people in life tell me I’m “a fool for not investing in the stock market” or “Chip, it’s not wise to spend four thousand dollars a year on video game plushies.”
Regardless of what lies ahead, today I’m going to talk about all the things I’m going to miss about my time at TCU and as a college undergraduate student. In a time where everything seems hectic and scary, I’m going to choose to be grateful for what I have had for the last four years. If you’re reading this and thinking “positive attitude? In a pandemic? Yeah, right,” don’t worry I’m right there with you most days, I’m just feeling very nice right now. Talk to me tomorrow and we can commiserate.
The Walking Beauty of our Campus
Our campus is great for strolls. I hadn’t grown as much of an appreciation for this until this year, when a stroll around campus was about the only time I was able to get out of my room. On a sunny day, the light hits the yellow bricks and buildings pop against a clear brilliant blue sky. Other colors dance in this space – earthy red bricks on the academic side of campus, the purple cabbage-like plants found in flower beds, the clean white sidewalks, the dark green grass. Winding paths, though they may be annoying when you’re in a rush, are delightful diversions that remind me that college is about the journey, not the destination.
We’re also fortunate to live on a campus that keeps many doors open. My friend Ally (hi Ally!) and I have made it a goal to explore every place on this campus that we’ve never been to. Last semester, I went into the TCU chapel for the first time. I stood in the huge atrium of the Bass Building, and glanced into the simulated hospital room with medical dummies lying in beds. I’ve stood on the rooftop terrace in Neeley at night, and looked out to see the bright downtown Fort Worth skyline. Though, they must not want us to see that view, because other than the first time we went, the doors to the terrace have been locked. There’s still plenty of places I haven’t seen, but it’s been a pleasure nonetheless to see everything.
Also, not to go into too much detail, but I also love to walk around and see all the fountains on campus. For a comprehensive guide to the TCU fountains, click here.
The World-Famous Cuisine of Fort Worth
I say that with a bit of sarcasm, but I have gained a true appreciation for the many local businesses in Fort Worth. I’m from Atlanta, and where I live I feel like I could drive in any direction and find a Chipotle within a mile of me. Here, on campus, we’re near so many local businesses. For me, this entire point is mainly about Pizza Snob and Dutch’s Burrito Bar. If you’re a Buff Bros fan or a Dutch’s original fan, that’s good for you, too! Coffee nuts have tons of options in Fort Worth, with Ampersand, Dwell, and Common Grounds, all a short walk from campus.
We also live near the center of three huge urban dining districts. West Seventh provides nicer, local restaurants, and tons of variety. Their Food Hall specifically gives people pretty much anything you could be craving. These are perfect for when your parents are visiting and are insisting on going out somewhere special. For the trendy members of society, Magnolia offers artisan food and experiences that feel unique and curated. My vegan and vegetarian friends love Spiral and Melt, both of which have plenty of options. And, are you someone who DOES love a Chipotle every once in a while? If you go towards Hulen, you have almost all the classic chains you could dream of.
I really could go on and on with everything right around us. Like, I didn’t even mention the late night necessities of Taco Bell and Old South. If I were to make one recommendation, I’d recommend Marble Slab on Hulen, which is in the Tom Thumb shopping center. It’s a mix-in style ice cream place, and it’s absolutely delicious. I personally believe it’s the platonic ideal for ice cream, and I think Plato would agree if he and ice cream existed in the world at the same time. Whatever you’ve got a hankering for, there’s so many options to choose from that are all exciting in one way or another. I’ve never felt like I’m forced in a routine here – there’s always something different you could go do!
Friendships and Cool Experiences
Over the last four years, I’ve gotten to be a part of several organizations that have helped me meet tons of interesting, unique people. Through theCrew, an organization I’m in, I’ve developed a bizarre skill set. I can spin a mean cotton candy, tie balloons for hours, coordinate with a sloth handler while walking through the airport, dance around the commons in a knockoff Mickey Mouse suit, and more. Like, it’s weird that I know a giant inflatable slide guy, right? But with all of those I’ve had a ton of fun, thanks to the awesome people in that organization.
I’ve also had a lot of fun experiences as a Resident Assistant in Foster Hall. Living in a freshman hall three of the four years I’ve been here has always kept me busy and entertained. This year specifically, I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve felt like I’ve had in a long time. Dorms are great because there’s always somebody who’s looking for something to do, so you never have to be bored or alone.
I know this is less of a universal point. You as the reader probably don’t have the same experience, but I am really going to miss a lot of these people. I hope you have people that you’ll miss, too. I know that’s a weird thing to wish on someone, that I hope you have some tough goodbyes ahead. But, all the same, I sincerely hope that you, at least some day, have someone to miss.
Really, I think I’m ready to move on from my undergraduate experience. As much as I love to learn, I’m a little sick of the whole homework format. If I never had to do another discussion post in my life, it’d be too soon. To be honest, I probably already don’t remember most of the stuff I’ve learned in college. I don’t carry Survey of U.S. History since 1872 or Differential Equations with me in my heart.
What I do carry are walks around campus, where I could let my mind rest for the first time in days. I’ll miss leisurely exploring the surrounding neighborhoods, finding clandestine benches, and walking on dirt paths. I’ll miss the frantic sweat I have as I juggle an airbrush tattoo artist, a three-story tall waterslide, and a popsicle cart at an event designed to welcome freshmen to the fun at TCU. I’ll miss Pizza Snob, where they know to get me a multigrain crust, and Fruitealicious, who starts making my Frozen Hot Chocolate as soon as I walk through the door, and Dutch’s Burrito Bar, with the cashier who always seems a bit too busy for her own good. I’ll miss my friends.
I feel like this is turning into what sounds like an advice post, and I really don’t mean it to sound so preachy. My intended tone is “voiceover diary entry at the end of the movie.” I hope my description of everything I love doesn’t come off as the blueprint – this is what I’ve found I enjoy. If I were to leave a final piece of advice, this would be it: find a place where you can be happy. And, once you’ve found that community or neighborhood or whatever, get engaged and involved. Enjoy your space, enjoy your people, and enjoy yourself.