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

Before I officially committed to Soka University of America, I attended “Experience Soka,” a two-day event in April designed to give admitted students the chance to get a feel for campus life through sample classes, assemblies, and student socializers. It’s a wonderful opportunity for those on the cusp of their college decision to finalize the process and take that courageous leap required of a Lion. Will you be a philosopher of a renaissance of life? A world citizen in solidarity for peace? A pioneer of a global civilization? Will you, Rosabelle Heine, allow your pale, sun-screened toes to sink into the sand of our California beaches? (Please say yes, you need more Vitamin D, sweetie.)

I’m sorry, but you see, I wasn’t going to be a Lion. I’d decided this at age 12 when my sister committed to Soka University and then again three years later when my brother joined her. I’d heard the question “So will you be attending SUA as well?” so many times that the words had become monotonous, and forced a warm, uninvited air of pre-destiny to loom over me.  

I was convinced that I needed to “carve my own path,” and was set on joining the Whitman College class of 2020. I felt comfortable knowing that I was going to go from one Chaco-wearing, bicycle-riding, herb-growing, mandolin-plucking, hacky-sacking PNW bubble to another. But in a turn of events (getting food-drunk on Indian take-out and talking about alternative realities with my childhood best friend) I “hopped on a plane to LAX” with a life-changing decision to make and way too many layers required for Southern California.

When I arrived on campus, I met Sofia, a first-year student and my host for the weekend. It was a grey, rainy day (I must have brought it with me from Oregon) but Sofia was shining and talking with me excitedly about my interests, passions, and hopes for college. Everything I said she replied with “oh, we’ve got something for that here!” or “there’s someone you should meet!” I was unquestionably failing at any and all efforts of resisting fitting in.

I found Sofia exceptionally intimidating. She sang jazz for several music groups on campus, woke up every morning at five to hike the campus, and had just received a grant to work in Nepal for the summer. We clicked instantly. But on paper, we were far from the same. That weekend, I continued to meet people who surprised, impressed and inspired me—people who had completely different backgrounds and beliefs but shared a deep, common desire for contributing positively to their lives.  

I began to think; maybe I don’t want to feel comfortable. Maybe I don’t want to go to a school where everything feels natural and easy. Maybe I want to take a leap.

The Pacific Northwest will always feel like home to me, and will always be a part of my identity. But I’ve also found a home at Soka and looking back on it, despite all the random factors that led me to Soka, I feel as if it were always destined.

Nellie Hultman is currently a sophomore at Soka University of America where she is studying Social and Behavioral Sciences. She is the Campus Correspondent for the Her Campus chapter at Soka. After living in 6 countries, she has developed a love for traveling, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, and trying new foods (lots of it). She hopes to continue traveling the world throughout her life. She plans to attend law school after college, and she desires to build a life focused on inspiring, empowering, and serving others. When she’s not doing homework or thinking about ways to change the world, you can find her researching unsolved crimes, singing in the car, watching Seinfeld… or eating.