Flashback to the first day of Freshman year, after my parents said goodbye to me and were at the airport waiting for their flight home. Leading up to it, I had thought the first night would’ve been very different. I had imagined myself with some new friends already, talking about how excited we are for our classes and our new journey together until 3 am before having my first sleepover at college with my forever best friends. Instead, I laid alone in my uncomfortable XL twin bed (because I didn’t know you were supposed to buy a mattress topper) in my dark dorm room and realized it would be months before I had my mom’s home cooked meals again.
I moved 3000 miles away to go to college. After I had received the acceptance letter, I didn’t think much of it. Both Massachusetts and California are both in America, therefore, wouldn’t it be the same thing? I’d still meet new people regardless if I went to California for school, and it’s not like I didn’t have a phone with me to stay in contact with my old friends and my family.
But it’s not the same thing. Going to a new region of America gave me a huge culture shock. I desperately reached for things that reminded me of home. I learned too much about myself, too fast, and immediately, I felt lost.
That’s the pain of moving so far away from home. You immediately feel lost.
And it hurts the first few months. At least it did for me. For my first semester, I felt as if I had such a strong idea of who I was in high school, but that everything I was confident about completely disappeared. The courageous, adventurous girl that my friends at home knew and loved did not come out. I didn’t have anything witty to say anymore. I couldn’t even specifically say what my passions were. It felt almost as if I had to rebuild my own identity.
And that was exactly what I needed. I needed to rebuild my own identity.
For 18 years of my life, I held a certain expectation of myself. It was very specific. I knew of myself as the type of girl who would wear one thing but would never wear another. Who would enjoy certain things but would never enjoy the opposites. Who would do one thing and therefore, never, ever, do anything else.
But being thrown into the deep end of the pool, I realized the only core personality traits that stayed were the ones that truly made me who I am. I realized no matter where I was or who I was talking to, as long as I am optimistic and kind, then I am myself. It took me about a semester or so to figure myself out, and by doing so, I learned something else about myself.
I am still figuring out who I am. No matter how comfortable I get in college, I realized that I will be continuously learning more about myself. For example, a couple of months back I realized I don’t actually hate spicy foods. Last week I realized that I have a tendency to prioritize everyone else before myself. As cliche as it sounds, college is a journey to self-discovery.
Even though moving 3000 miles away seemed like such a big decision, it was one that I don’t regret in a single way. Seeing my family once every few months is hard, but being able to go back and show them what a better person I have been becoming and how much I have been learning is worth the flight and the time zones. Missing big events that my friends share together at home really sucks, but I am able to make up for it through new memories with new people from new places in college.
There are many factors that go into choosing which college is best for you. My personal advice, don’t let new things scare you. If you are from a small school, don’t shy away from the thousands of people you will meet at a big university. And if you are thinking of moving over hundreds of miles away like me, remember your home will always be there, but it is time to look forward.