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From Small Island Livin’ to Big City Hustlin’—My Move from a Tropical Florida Key to The Freezing Northeast

I have lived on the same small island in Florida for my entire life. Longboat Key has one stoplight and requires crossing over two bridges to get to the nearest town. My house is across the street from the beach and a short swim or kayak ride from my best friends’ house. I left my tropical paradise for a new scene, the big city of Boston, Massachusetts.

Although island life was sometimes inconvenient, it was a great way to grow up. There weren’t many kids on the island except for me and a few neighbors. We were able to do pretty much whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, as long as it involved something to do with the sun and the sea. It was very safe and everyone knew who we were. We would watch the sunset almost every night and the weather was always suitable for a swim. The sun shined, we got tan, ate fresh fish, and we always came home covered in sand.

Moving to Boston has been a major change in scenery. The majority of people living here are young students. This is very different from Florida, where everyone goes to retire. The sunset doesn’t light up the sky with the same bright colors it did at home and some days I don’t even see the sun at all. In Longboat Key, the coldest it ever got was the high 30s and that was very rare. In a Boston winter, the high 30s are considered a nice day.

My room used to be a quiet oasis, as was everywhere on the island. The loudest sound was the crashing of the waves as the sea breeze picked up. I’ve had to get used to the sounds of sirens and people in the streets putting me to sleep living in Boston. I have had to get used to seeing thousands of new faces every day. I have had to get used to everything being five minutes away instead of thirty. It has been a huge shift, but I’ve loved every second of it.

I miss the feeling of the sun on my cheeks and the sand between my toes, but I love the new rush I get from hurrying off the train. I love meeting such diverse and interesting people. In a city, every day brings something new and exciting. Boston is ever-changing. I know that when I step outside the possibilities of what my day could bring are endless.

The skyscrapers of downtown once made me feel intimidated compared to the palm trees that used to give me shade, but now when I walk through the streets, the presence of the tall buildings feels like a hug. The hustle and bustle of the city is different from living on island time, but the adrenaline rush is unlike anything I ever experienced at home.

I miss the smell of the ocean, but I have learned to love the smell of coffee powering all my fellow city dwellers. I will always be an island girl at heart, but I love the city woman I am becoming. Don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone. Making the leap from a small island to a big city has expanded my view on the world.

Of course, it was scary at first, but it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.


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Emma is an English major at Boston University. She hopes to have a novel published and write for a sketch comedy show one day. In her free time she reads, writes, and paints. She loves to make people laugh and fully believes in aliens.
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