I was at Mohawk College for three years, fresh out of high school. Everyone said, your college years are your best, but for me, those years didn’t become the best years until towards the end. It took me a while to find my place at Mohawk, to find my friends, to manage my time better, to find solid roommates and to figure out where I wanted to go in life – which is something I am still figuring out.
One of my favourite recollections of my time as a college student is how certain a friendship grew. Karina Mankinen and I were both enrolled in the Tourism and Travel program at the same time. It took a year and half for us to have the same schedules. We were always just missing each other.
Finally, our schedules matched and we found ourselves sitting beside each other in class. We became instant friends. We started chatting (sometimes too much!), doing projects together and hanging out. We were both humble, had a passion for travel and we could find humour in almost anything.
Our semester together came to an end. We graduated and we were both uncertain what our future would look like. I took a summer student position at the college and she went back home to her sleepy, small town to work. I missed her dearly, but we made every effort to keep in touch. She would send me updates of what she was up to and I would send her pictures of random escapades I had in Hamilton.
That summer was the beginning of a true lifelong friendship.
After the summer, we came back to Mohawk and enrolled in the Event Management Program. We were back to spending classes together, sharing dinners, and collaborating on what felt like endless school work. We would go to Wednesday night pub when we could. Often we couldn’t get in because they reached capacity so we would make our way back to Karina’s to watch a movie and find something to laugh about.
When that program ended, we again went our separate ways. She took off to Toronto and later 3,400 km away to Banff, while I stayed put in Hamilton. We went back to missing each other and made every effort we could to see each other and to keep in touch. Over the years we shared our stores of heartbreaks, milestones, failures, dreams through text messages and snap chats. It’s been six years since we graduated, but our friendship remains strong and unshaken by the distance.
This past August I was married in Hamilton. Without hesitation, Karina hopped on a plane to spend the weekend in Hamilton to be there while I said “I do” to my life partner. We had a sleep over the night before, just like the slumber party scene in Grease, we laughed, shared some wine and were excited and nervous for the next day.
Mohawk provided me an education, skills for life and one of the most important things, memories and friends that will last a lifetime. Karina wasn’t the only lifelong friend I made at Mohawk. There are others that are just as important and we do our best to keep in touch and get together any opportunity we can. I am grateful for my time at Mohawk and for my lifelong friends.
Felicia (Caggiano) Van Dyk
– Tourism & Travel, 2010
Follow Felicia @Felicia_VanDyk