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Aggressive drivers. Not pumping my own gas. The best bagels. The best pizza. Short train ride to New York City. Close to the shore. This is home for me. This is New Jersey.

 

I’m from Westfield, New Jersey and go to school at Elon University in North Carolina. When looking at colleges, I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go. Did I want to stay close to home? Did I want to go far away? I chose the far away option and am about a ten hour car ride from home.

 

When I first came to school I was so nervous. I was not only far away from my family, but I was in a completely new state. I would have to learn to pump my own gas. North Carolina is very different from New Jersey, so I had no idea what to expect. Would I fit in? If I wasn’t happy I couldn’t easily go home, which made me incredibly nervous. I felt like I didn’t have a safety net. In retrospect, however, I think it was essential that I didn’t have a safety net. I adapted very quickly to my new surroundings because I had to, which I am so glad I did.

 

During my first few weeks at college I found myself missing home. I wasn’t around my friends that I had my whole life, I wasn’t around my family for the first time and I had to adjust to a college course load.  

 

After just a few short weeks, Elon felt like my home away from home. Even though their bagels and pizza aren’t as a good, I truly found my place here. I found it insane that after only a few weeks at school, it started to feel like home. I started to know how to get places, made fast friends and my dorm room became my happy, safe place.

 

New Jersey people are known for being aggressive or rude. While I don’t find this to be true, the people in North Carolina are unbelievably kind and generous. I see it everyday when I walk into the dining hall and every worker gives me a smile. I see it when I go to local establishments and am always met with kindness and genuine interest in making me happy.

 

While New Jersey will always have my heart and I will always miss my family and friends, Elon has given me a second home that I am so lucky I get to go to. Every break I’m sad to leave, but I know that I truly found where I belong.

 

Hi my name is Caitlin Hogge! I live in Westfield, New Jersey and am currently a Junior at Elon University. I'm majoring in Strategic Communications and minoring in Political Science.
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