I also went to Western, or as it was known at the time, University of Western, Ontario and graduated in 1999. When I went there I was a mature student with a husband and two kids and a busy life. But I had wanted to go for as long as I could remember and with the support of my family, I did it.
My school experience wouldn't be the same as that of a teenager. I loved studying and learning and being surprised and sharing opinions when I was a student. I was friendly with many people and got along well with my professors but I didn't make any of the close bonds I saw in younger people. I think the first year when they are all living together in dorms and sharing the same issues and goals makes for that bonding. I wish that could have happened for me but I digress . . .
My connection is with the place itself. I love the buildings and gardens and the constant buzz of activity and people talking about ideas. I love the libraries and book stores. I loved it when one of the younger students would ask me 'is it like that in the real world?' after a very difficult lecture or discussion. I loved going to the Grad Club to study and have lunch or a coffee. It was lovely that when your books were open everyone left you to it but if you were just sitting with a coffee they would say hi or even sit and chat while sipping their coffee.
I returned some books to the Weldon Library today. It was a beautiful afternoon. I could feel the sense of expectancy . . . empty sidewalks, empty buildings, repairs and renovations apparent . . . a place that doesn't come alive until the students return. I strolled slowly back to my vehicle and I must have been smiling. A family was touring the campus and all of them returned my smiles. It made me feel good.