Like a study abroad trip to Europe, my Badger Herald experience has taken me many places in very little time. Not physical places, unless one counts a few expense-paid excursions to California or the occasional venture up to the Herald roof, but rather journeys of the intellectual sort. And, much like college students gallivanting across Germany, France, Spain, Prague and Italy, I gravitated toward those who spoke my own language: AP Style. Throughout these three years, I have formed close bonds with those around me as we trekked together through unknown and, at times, frightening territory.

After such a great trip, I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to board that return flight home.

Of course, I am looking forward to graduation – the feeling of accomplishment from having earned a degree, a non-nocturnal sleep schedule, regular meals and exercise, maybe reading a book. And now that I no longer work at the Herald, spending every waking hour in the office, my roommates and other friends may begin to remember what I look like. Speaking of the office, this dilapidated, squirrel-infested, trash-littered Petri dish for infectious diseases is one thing I will not miss.

But in many ways, the Herald has defined me as a person. In seven semesters, I have written more than 100 articles for The Badger Herald and edited countless more.

I learned from the Arts section that you have to review a few Slash and Susan Boyle albums before you can interview Arlo Guthrie and Natalie Portman, a lesson in optimism and work ethic that I have been able to apply to many other aspects of life.

When I was fortunate enough to be appointed to Associate Copy Chief my junior year, I quickly saw myself becoming persnickety about oxford commas, hyphenation and other tedious aspects of AP Style. While having a stick up one’s butt is frowned upon in most social circles, at the Herald, such a talent is akin to being the only one who can read a map when the tour group is stranded on a train platform in Bologna.

As an at-large member of the Editorial Board this semester, I have begun to figure out how to channel my own voice when discussing politics, ethics and legislative matters. Articulating a relevant opinion in written prose is no easy feat, though, to my surprise, I have found that readers will give a writer far more shit for calling out Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism in an Arts column than a well thought out piece on higher ed policies for the Opinion section. Muppets fans have also proved to be a tough crowd.

During my tenure as an employee of The Badger Herald (and brief stint as an Arts Editor Emeritus), I have witnessed my fair share of excitement, horror and scandal. I slept in the Capitol building during the collective bargaining protests, traveled to the second of three consecutive Rose Bowls and recently saw the paper shift from a daily to a four-day print edition with an emphasis on online media.

Looking back, it amazes me that my GPA stayed intact, that I got any work done at all. For it was not the month spent in Florence, Italy, that got me hooked on espresso and red wine. That, and much more, I owe to The Badger Herald.