Me and Cassie (left) with our preschool teacher in 2003
On the first day of preschool, the teacher asked me for my last name, and I said “I don’t know. Ask my sister.”
I’ve always had Cassie by my side, and last year was the first time I really did something on my own. Sure, I did things alone in high school like taking piano lessons and she did things on her own like joining the lacrosse team, but I never fully did anything by myself. I knew more people because friends of my sister would reach out and even though we had separate friends, she was always there whether it was on the bus, at football games, or at the restaurant we worked together at.
As much as I love New Jersey, I wanted to go out-of-state for college and see something new and Cassie felt the same way. I knew we would end up at different places, needing to experience school the way everyone else had their whole lives. When I picked UMass and she picked UNH, she left first and already knew a girl from our high school. I knew no one at UMass and I was always used to having at least one person: her.
Meeting new people was really hard. My roommate ended up being extremely quiet and never talked to anyone, including me. My sister met her roommate at orientation and ended up becoming really close with her and the girl from our high school. It felt like it was so easy for her to go off on her own and I was struggling.
I can’t really say one thing happened that changed everything. Things changed slowly but surely. I spent almost all my freshman year hanging out with the girls across the hall and the girls next door. We were in the corner of the hall in the dorm “Van Meter” and people in Central were pretty quiet in general. It was a good year, but it was one of adjustment and when it ended, I was determined to make sophomore year different.
So what did I do to adjust even more to another year without my sister?
I think a good start was living in Southwest. I have a random roommate since the girl I was going to live with transferred, and my luck completely changed for the better this year. I love my roommate and I’m living with my two friends next year downtown. Being in a more social area of campus has definitely helped me and now that I’ve changed my major, I like my classes so much more and I’ve met a lot of cool people that way too!
It’s still strange to be home when my sister isn’t and being hours away from my friends and town is hard, but I’m getting used to it. Trying something by myself has been really cool and I’m even studying abroad in England next semester. I needed to go to college alone not just to prove to myself that I can, but to know what’s it like to truly do something by myself.
At Judie’s in downtown Amherst on our 20th birthday!
My friend Liz (left) and I this year. Liz is from New Jersey too and we love hanging out and seeing movies together!
Photos courtesy of the author