When I first visited as a high school senior, I thought WashU was Disney World. Abundant spring sunshine sparkled off the blushing bricks of the campus buildings. Smiling students played Frisbee in Mudd Field. And the South 40 actually looked like a theme park village. The illusion ended the next day when 70-degree sunshine warped into stinging wind and rain — authentic St. Louis-style, it turns out. Still, when I called home that night, shivering from the walk back to my host’s room, I was smiling.
It comes in bits and pieces. The first time I ate a Holmes wrap, sitting next to my mom on my admitted-students visit as a senior in high school, I had no idea that this room would be the place where I would I spent dozens of hours studying, scheming with my friends, and giggling on a slightly awkward but wonderful second date with my girlfriend. All I could think at the time was, “Wow, I love this place!” That hasn’t changed. I visited campus a few months ago as a young alum.