I Transferred Schools from the Deep South to New York City: Was it the Right Choice?

When I put in my housing deposit as a second-semester senior in Connecticut, I had no idea what the next year had in store for me. The large southern university I committed to seemed picture perfect- and it was. The rolling-hills campus had everything; 16 perfect sorority mansions, a top-rated football team, and the party culture that any state school is known for. I was set for a great 4 years, jam-packed with parties, sorority sisters, football games and southern hospitality. This school was never on my radar; I had planned on staying in the northeast my entire life. I had always loved New York City and planned to move here as soon as I left high school, but visiting the deep south seemed like a change I needed, and was something I thought I would love.

I did everything I felt I was supposed to do: rush sororities a week before school ever started, go to frat parties, tailgate at football games, and learn the fight song. I studied and tried to keep myself busy, but I lost any and all motivation for learning. I was never the best student and was never extremely interested in getting good grades or finishing school. I felt like it was necessary, and my situation was making it worse.

Months went by and I stopped going to every party, every tailgate; slowly I began staying in my dorm room face-timing my parents, telling them about how much fun I was having. When I’d hang up, I’d either cry or try not to. I missed the north. The fall foliage and crisp air were replaced with sweltering heat and humidity. Hopping on the plane to go back to Connecticut for Thanksgiving could not have come sooner. I kept up the facade until I couldn’t anymore, which was a total of about four hours. I broke down to my sister and my dad about how miserable I felt, and how I didn’t want to go back. They talked me down and convinced me to finish the week left until winter intersession. I finished my finals, only for my (amazing) dad to drive a total of forty hours there and back to move me out.

The drive back was great, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I could finally take a breath without feeling like I would sob at any moment. Then it got real, what was I going to do with my life? Would I finish college? Would I even go back? Do I even want to? I took the entire semester off, something I should have done before I even went to school. In the beginning, I felt like I would never go back, I would figure out a plan and work somewhere- without a degree. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I always wanted to work on Wall Street or in fashion, and most of those jobs required degrees. I felt defeated. I had failed. I was devastated by it, and I had no motivation for anything anymore. Technically, I was a college dropout, which made me even more anxious. Eventually, my dad pushed me to apply to schools in New York City, I had always wanted to be there and maybe it would be good for me.

Fast-forward to the summer, I felt ready. I could do this, I was enrolled in the fall to go to Pace University, the complete opposite of my previous school. There was one main building, not hundreds, and it was a city-campus instead of a whole town for just one university. Sure, there were a few days where I refused to go- I was terrified I would fail, or drop-out again, but I ended up moving to New York and settling in for school. The first few days with my roommate were awkward, as everyone's pretty much is, but she also transferred from a similar southern university after one semester, so it was easy to explain why I felt I needed to transfer.

Going to school in the city isn’t really like going to college at all, it almost feels like you live in a city and just happen to be taking classes, instead of college being the only thing around you. I traded in fraternity parties for art galleries, football games for Broadway shows, and campus bus-rides for the subway system. I couldn’t be more sure of the decision I made.

Sitting in the middle of New York City writing this, I realize that I don’t regret going to my first school. In fact, it might be one of the best things to happen to me. I feel motivated to do well again, I am thriving in clubs and at work, and my grades are better than they’ve ever been. I’ve learned a lot about myself and learned how to speak up for what I want, and need. I now know I will never question my decision about leaving, or about coming to NYC. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life- or more sure of a decision. I felt like I was struggling to keep my head above water before; I was sinking through the cracks. Here, I feel like something has finally clicked, and I wouldn’t trade it for any traditional college experience in the world.