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Experiences

Transferring Colleges: Learning to Grow Through Unexpected Change

This time last year, I was in one of the lowest points of my life mentally. I had just moved into college, a college that had been my top choice for most of high school. I had new friends, I was finally out on my own, and had all these opportunities around me. The only problem: I was so depressed I could not enjoy any of it.

Granted, I was five hours away from home, alone for the first time in my life. Being an only child and only grandchild, my family really did and still does a lot for me. I had to learn how to do so much on my own, I barely knew how to wash my own laundry. Still, that was not my problem; I learned to enjoy cooking and cleaning for myself even while navigating schoolwork and my new environment. It was a break for me where I could put aside a few hours to focus strictly on anything without worrying about studying. I was not being lazy, I truly liked being on my own, but I still could not get out of bed in the morning because I simply did not want to face the day.

Even as a normally optimistic person, I found myself finding the absolute negative in literally everything possible. I did not want to leave my dorm; I said no every time one of my friends asked me to even go to the dining hall with them. I was in a new city, and I did not want to go explore or meet new people other than my roommates. I slept an abnormal number of hours because it felt like that was the only time I did not have to think about my situation. After I admitted to my friends and family that I did not want to be there anymore, I would call them every night and just cry. I knew it was normal for me to be homesick, but it was debilitating at that point.

I had heard so many stories where people had moved far away from home and enjoyed college so much, but I just couldn’t, and I didn’t have any motivation to even try. I felt so ungrateful for all of the help I had getting into the college and moving there, from my teachers in high school and my family. I felt stupid for thinking that I could do this. But as the Pisces I am, I needed to escape, I needed to breathe, and I felt like I couldn’t do that five hours away from home. Since it was during COVID, the college was offering to give some money back if I left before a certain date. The first opportunity I got, I left the school. I gave up. I felt like a failure and a disappointment. But that first step into Philadelphia from my plane, I felt so relived. It was as if the last two months never happened.

Still with lingering feelings of failure and embarrassment, I applied to schools around my home in the middle of the year. And even between semesters, I got in again with the help of my high school teachers and my family. I remember sitting down to write my personal statement for Jefferson and I just poured my heart out with hope they might feel bad enough to let me in. And thankfully they did because this was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. 

Jefferson and the people here have been so good to me; I feel like I fit in and more importantly I actually want to take the opportunities given to me.

From this experience I’ve learned a few things:

For one, it is okay to take yourself out of a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Now, I’m not advocating for quitting something without giving it a proper try, like I did. But I am advocating for not feeling like you have to stay somewhere or keep doing something you that makes you depressed or that you simply do not like. You should not fear that you might disappoint others or yourself. I truly thought it was the end of the world if I did not stay at the college that I talked about for years and told everyone about. I thought people would judge me and think I wasn’t competent or strong enough to stay. But after I left and told people about it, most of the responses I got were “I get it”, “I would’ve done the same thing”, or simply “Oh,”. No one will judge you for doing what make you happy because in the end; everybody is truly too worried about their own happiness and their situation to care that much about yours.

Another thing: it is ok to go down paths that you did not expect. Life is not a linear path. And just because your path looks different than someone else’s does not mean your failing. I never thought I’d leave my number one school. I never thought I’d go to a college this close to my hometown. But here I am, and taking a step back, I’ve realized it is the best option for me and my own mental health. I can escape when I want from the treachery that is college and at the same time, I can feel like I am still moving forward in life by not having to be home all the time. I can see all of my old friends and have so many opportunities to make new ones.

Finally, mental health is so important, and you really can make your own happiness. I’ve realized I can’t rely on any person or really anything to make me happy. At my low point, my own accomplishments weren’t even making me happy. After returning home, I did feel 100 times better, but I still felt unhappy in many ways. I just sat myself down and told myself, “This is not you; you are going to be happy, or you are going to tell yourself you are until you actually are.” And it worked. Now it’s not as simple as it sounds, but I started doing things that genuinely made me happy and not to appease other people. I took breaks when I needed to, I didn’t get myself upset when I didn’t get the grade I wanted, I took walks, I bought coffee, I petted my cat, I hung out with my best friend, I did the little things. Even if I didn’t want to get out of bed, I did it. And eventually without even noticing I was happy again. Nurturing your mental health is so vital as tough as it may be at time. Honestly, it’s still not all rainbows in my life even being in an environment that I like. But now I force myself to do something that makes me happy every day, because one small happy moment a day is still something to feel accomplished about.

Ultimately, having to transfer or make any other big changes in your life for you, is not the end of the world. Do exactly what makes you feel your happiest, because you are responsible for yourself. Things will always work out in the end if (and only if) you are happy.

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Gianna Cordisio

Jefferson '24

Hi, I'm Gianna! I'm a sophomore at Jefferson University, currently majoring in Health Sciences on the Pre-Pharmacy track. I'm from South Philly (you can probably tell by my accent), ask me anything about it. I enjoy eating, car rides, and make up.
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