What I Learned Going to College Far from Home

At 18, it’s a huge task to pick up your life and move 2,117 miles from home for college. Yet, I moved from San Diego to Milwaukee and I couldn’t be happier that I did. I learned so much about myself, my city, and my support system when I made such a big jump. Here are just a few things I learned in the past three years. 

 

I Have Made Milwaukee my Home

Without the ability to go home for a weekend when everyone is studying or out of town, I was pushed to explore my new city! A daunting task at first, I slowly began to understand public transportation, niche neighborhoods, and all the best brunch spots. Spending weekends, breaks, and summers in the city I moved two thousand miles to pay off. As a junior, I have a great sense of the city and really feel like I have made Milwaukee my second home! Exploring coffee shops, record stores, and museums are my favorite ways to get to know my new home. 

 

My Friends became my Family 

I never had the luxury to go home when I had a crappy day or go out to dinner with the fam to celebrate a school success. I had to rely on my friends to be my support system. My friends have helped me through all the test stress, boy drama, and unnecessary anxiety just like my parents did at home. I have created friendships that will last a lifetime because they have been tested every week for the past three years. 

 

I never could go home for long weekends, so for Easter and Fall break I usually headed to Chicago suburbs to stay with my friends’ and their families. I have spent countless holidays as a guest, but sometimes never felt more at home. I have created amazing relationships with my friends’ families and I know I have a second home with them. 

 

I Explored a New Culture 

I know it sounds dramatic to call the Midwest a new culture, but compared the West Coast it practically is. Before attending Marquette, I had never heard of Vera Bradley, Vineyard Vine, Culver’s, custard, or cheese curds. I had no idea lakes were so much fun or that cornhole takes some serious skill. I have learned how important family is and the definition of neighborly kindness. I have, most importantly, learned that people grew up differently than I did and to appreciate our differences. 

 

Home is so important 

When I only have a limited time to see my family and high school friends, eat my favorite Mexican burrito, and lay at the beach I begin to realize how precious time at home can be. I appreciate family dinners and lazy Netflix days with my BFFs. I only get a few weeks a year to be a kid again without term papers or group projects. I realize that home is an integral part of who I am, and it is important to reconnect every so often. 

 

I Became so Frickin’ Independent 

From traveling by myself to scheduling my own dentist appointments, I have gained life skills that are invaluable. I learned how to make my own decisions and mistakes. I gained a new sense of self-identity and confidence. My family also holds a newfound trust in me and I began to trust myself, too. 

I am so thankful for my privilege to attend college far from home. I have grown more than I ever imagined. I know it’s not for everyone, but trust me if you make the jump you will learn more about yourself than you knew was even there!