A Weekend in Illinois

May 16, 2017

As y’all know, finals and graduation season are currently in full swing. Although I’m nowhere near graduating any time soon, this past weekend, I had the privilege of attending my cousin’s graduation from the University of Illinois. I had one of the most memorable weekends of my life and I thought I’d share my experience with y’all. Walking around the campus and witnessing the beginning of many people’s lives was an unforgettable experience.. Here we go!

A couple hours beforehand, we packed and got my cousin’s graduation present wrapped. Then, we headed out the door to catch our flight. After we got past airport security, my dad and I sipped on some yummy green juices from Red Mango. Champaign, Illinois is a small college town a couple hours from Chicago, which means the airport was super tiny and the airplane we t0ok getting here was even smaller! We were both exhausted by the time we arrived at my cousin’s house. I had trouble keeping my eyes open! We had a quick dinner, took a shower, and went straight to bed.

A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth

When I got up in the morning, my uncle made the most delicious french baguette ever. The baguette was one of the best homemade bread recipes I’ve ever had, and I entirely regret not taking pictures! I literally just ate half a loaf of bread and some fresh fruit, so I wouldn’t look so much like the complete carb-obsessed weirdo that I am. My aunt brewed some coffee that we drank quickly, which got my dad talking about the chocolate coffee cupcakes I made a few days ago. Then, my uncle admitted that he didn’t like cupcakes, which kind of killed the mood (but we love him anyways!).

After we’d finished breakfast, I whipped out my camera and went full paparazzi mode on my family! We only had about 10 minutes to take pictures by the lake before we had to head over to the morning ceremony over on campus, so I made use of all the time we had.

A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet ToothA Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth

We hopped into my aunt’s car and headed over to the University of Illinois (aka UIUC) campus, and into the football stadium. Fun fact: the university was founded in 1887, which was only a couple years after the Civil War ended! It was also UIUC’s 150 year anniversary, so it was pretty cool that my cousin got to graduate this year. In celebration of the achievement, the university somehow got Nick Offerman to come and speak to the graduates! You know, the guy who’s in Parks and Rec and Gilmore Girls?? The crowd went wild. We listened to him, along with the rest of the college’s professor give motivational speeches to us for two whole hours. Then we decided to go ahead and leave, and make our way to the Engineering Luncheon.

A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth

A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth

We walked around the campus for a bit after having lunch. We took some pictures with the engineering building’s “mascot” and the Alma Mater, which was super fun!

A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth

Our last stop was the afternoon engineering graduation ceremony, dome-shaped basketball court. There were about 7,000 graduates, all from different engineering branches (aerospace, biotechnology, material, etc.). And they named off every single person. Seven thousand people!! My dad and uncle ended up dozing off in the middle of it. The four of us tried to stick it out and wait for my cousin’s name to be called, but my aunt and I knew they wouldn’t last.

A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth

While editing pictures, I snacked on some cheese and crackers. I didn’t realize until I looked down that I had eaten a whole package of crackers and a lot of cheese. Because of this, I wasn’t really hungry when dinner rolled around. I had some asparagus, grilled chicken, and a slice of homemade zucchini bread, but that was it. Afterwards, I went upstairs and had some alone time for a while.

Before I knew it, it was the next morning and I found myself boarding the flight back home. Do you ever feel like when you close your eyes for just a second, and suddenly hours of your life have flown by? As I strapped in my seat belt, that’s exactly how it felt. Knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing my close relatives in quite a while, which made me really sad. It’s kind of hard to describe!

I miss Illinois already!

A Weekend in Illinois - My Southern Sweet Tooth

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  • Reply Daneen May 22, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    This looks like a terrific time! What was Nick Offerman like? Food looks delish too..

    • Reply Ashley May 23, 2017 at 10:07 am

      He was so funny! Thanks <3

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