The Move from Suburbia to Boston - My Story of Moving for College

Sterling, Virginia: a great place to grow up, but not a great place to live after you graduate high school. This was my mindset after narrowing down where I wanted to go after my twelve years of staying in the same city, and I still think my mindset holds true after moving away for college. Most people don’t even know where Sterling is. Don’t get me wrong, I loved living there with the time I had—I was 40 minutes away from the nation’s capital, everything you needed was a five minute drive away, and I was surrounded by great people all the time. Five years ago, I never would have imagined moving far from home for college, much less move to a state that I’ve never been to before.

One day in fourth grade, our school invited representatives from a few colleges in the state so we could become exposed to college at a young age. Although I don’t remember all of the schools that were invited, the two schools I distinctly remember were George Mason University and the University of Virginia (UVA). After those two schools visited, my two best friends expressed that they wanted to go to UVA when they’re older, and to fit in, I expressed the same statement as well. This sentiment lasted until freshman year of high school, when I got a sense of what I wanted to do for my future.

I knew that I wanted to do something in the English field, and I was looking at different schools within the state—James Madison University, the College of William and Mary, UVA, and a lot more. When I decided that I didn’t want my major to be as broad as English, it was very difficult to find schools within Virginia that had programs that I would be strongly interested in. It was junior year that I decided that I wanted to get involved in journalism for my future, and the closest major I could find to journalism that was a part of an in-state school was communication studies, which I was not looking for. This resorted to an option that not many people from my high school did—choosing an out-of-state college.

I never really knew anyone in high school that also wanted to major in journalism, so I didn’t have anyone I could look up to or ask for advice. I was basically on my own, but I knew that staying in Virginia wasn’t the best option for me. 

Sterling could be synonymous to suburbia—every neighborhood had a mini shopping center and condos or houses lined against all of the roads. You grew up seeing the same people every single day, some of whom you knew since kindergarten. You would wake up and do the same thing every day before you go to bed and start the whole day over again. I wanted to live a life where I didn’t do the same thing every single day and I met different people every day. I wanted to get away from the suburbia lifestyle and live in the middle of the hustle and bustle. That was when I decided that moving away from my home was something I could do for my aspirations in journalism.

When I told people that I was going to Boston for college, most of them were excited and happy for me, yet some of them seemed to be a bit wary of my choice. Those people were concerned for me adapting to the weather, since Boston is notorious for its harsh winters, and the area that I would eventually live in is part of a wind tunnel, so exiting a building is like a breeze slapping me in the face. With this in mind, people were also concerned about how I was going to adapt to a place I’ve never lived in before—a place that wasn’t Sterling, Virginia.

In a study done by Pew Research Center, nearly four in ten have never left the place they were born, so it’s safe to say that it’s likely for people to stay in the same place for a long time before they move. For some people, that’s a good thing—they want to stay close to their families and they don’t want to push their comfort zones too far out. Another good thing about staying in-state for college is the tuition for public schools. You would have to pay significantly less money than a person who was coming from out of the state. And for those people, I fully support their decision and what they want for their futures.

However, that wasn’t the best option for me. There were barely any schools in Virginia that had something that would fit for me as a person aspiring to go into journalism. Sure, I could’ve applied and gone to a school in Washington D.C., since some of them do have journalism programs and are a short metro ride away from home. Despite this route, I decided to resist this and expanded my horizons, applying to schools in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston. A voice in my head told me that if I didn’t go for my dreams, I wouldn’t be able to reach my fullest potential and get opportunities that are unheard of at home.

So I decided to leave my home and make the big move up to Boston. Saying goodbye to my friends was very difficult. Saying goodbye to family was also hard, especially since I have no immediate family living in Boston and I would have to manage a lot of things on my own without them physically being there with me. And, perhaps saddest of all, I had to bid farewell to driving as well, and as funny as it may sound, I wouldn’t be able to drive for nearly four months and instead I had to adapt to the Boston public transportation system.

Although I had to say goodbye to so many things in Sterling, I have no regrets of moving here. Since I arrived in Boston, I have met so many amazing people that I will cherish for years to come. I have received opportunities that I didn’t know were possible. I have explored the areas around me that were fascinating and fun to experience. As a theatre fanatic, I have seen ten shows since I arrived, and it’s barely been three months.

There is so much more waiting here for me to experience, and although I support those who choose to stay close to home for their education, I applaud for those who get out of their comfort zone and try something they’ve never done before and see what the world has to offer. In short, I miss seeing the same faces every day and living in the same house for twelve straight years, but Boston has exceeded my expectations for my future, and I don’t plan on transferring anytime soon.