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Being a Small-Town Girl at a Big-City College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

Let’s make it clear: the journey to college is never identical for everyone. My circumstances are not unique, but seeing them come to light through my first year and a half (-ish) offered a very eye-opening experience. I’m from Trinidad, Colorado, a tiny town right above the New Mexico border. I’m not going to droll on and on about Trinidad (I can save that for another article), but I think it’s important to unpack the significance of the experience of going from middle-of-nowhere to definitely somewhere. I’ll start somewhere relevant; I graduated high school in July 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, with 55 of my classmates. I was already committed to attending college out-of-state before my senior year even began, dedicated to giving myself a new perspective and a fresh start on adult life.  

College started with a downpour. No, I’m not being deep or metaphorical. It literally dumped rain on the day we moved in. My first moment of community was sitting in a residence hall lounge, meeting upperclassmen and cracking jokes about the rain. Throughout my next couple of weeks, I learned that most of my classmates are from the suburbs. Most of them are from the outskirts of Chicago, Nashville or Kansas City. I made some other friends from Colorado, but they admitted to never hearing of my hometown. As nice as it was to meet so many people from so many unique backgrounds, my freshman year felt undeniably isolating. The pandemic didn’t help, and it was difficult to feel like I fit in. Many people on my floor already knew each other or met through some other programs. My roommate and I, at the very least, could bond over not knowing anybody. 

As I mentioned before, my experience is absolutely not unique. Feeling like you don’t fit in is pretty common. I have no doubts that my big-city classmates have felt the same way. Going to college, whether you’re in-state, out-of-state or online is different for everyone. Sometimes, the only thing we might have in common is apprehension. Honestly, it took me my entire freshman year to understand the gravity of being at college. Regardless of the size or state of your college, you’re never going to be alone. There is guaranteed to be another person in your shoes. Navigating what could be your first step into independence is hard. Not all of us are built for being totally on our own from day one. I’ll be the first to admit that I visited home three weeks into my first semester. Homesickness is normal. Missing your family and friends is fine. You’re fine. Meeting people and having new experiences is part of the deal. You’re paying exorbitant amounts of money to be here; you’ll meet people. You aren’t the only one feeling how you feel. I was just as surprised to find out more people didn’t know what they were doing.  

You don’t need to forget where you’re from or join a clique to have a fun and organized college life. Regardless of your background, history, hometown, GPA or best friends, you will be okay. Things get weird, the unexpected happens, and you all get through it together. You might become best friends with someone from a town 300 times bigger than yours or 20 times your graduating class. Your background is absolutely important, but it doesn’t define you. Your impact— just as an individual— matters. College is all about figuring out who you are and where you’re going, so don’t fret. You’ve got this. 

Class of 2023! We keep it real around here. Librarian and matcha enjoyer. (she/they)