Transitioning from East Coast to West: Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone

Moving from one area to another is never easy. Moving from one state to another is even more difficult. And moving 1,800 miles away from home to go to school is something that seems downright insane to most people. But this is exactly what I did at 18 years old.

It’s been two years since my move from Pennsylvania to Utah. At this point, I am extremely happy with my school (including all its quirks), and have found friends that I know will stand the test of time. But, I would be lying if I said that it was always this way.

Growing up in a relatively small town, it’s easy to spot the different friend group politics at play in any given moment. After living in a town like this for 18 years, you can’t wait to get out and experience a change. Yet, one thing I was never really prepared for, is that no matter where you go, there will still be preexisting friend groups and people who have always lived in this place that is so new and unfamiliar to you.  So, to jump from one semi-small town to what felt like the exact same situation on a much larger scale was a phenomenon that sent me into a spiral of self-blame as to why I couldn’t make friends at school as quickly as everyone else. Every time I tried to take chances and go out of my way to social events, I always left feeling even more confused and hopeless than when I began. From there, I isolated myself further, only going to class, the dining hall, and my dorm, and even considered transferring back home after my first semester at school.

Then something clicked. I moved the whole way away from everything I knew for a reason, and to go back after such a short amount of time would completely defeat that purpose. I couldn’t allow my fear of being outside of my comfort zone allow me to lose out on all the social experiences (and financial benefits) that Utah had to offer. So I stuck it out through that second semester, and decided to rush a sorority in my third semester (something that I would highly recommend to anyone that feels out of place at their schools).

It is only after you get through these dark points that you can see the other factors that could’ve been influencing the way that you are feeling and behaving after making a big move. For anyone from the east wanting to come to the west, I have several tips for you to be aware of:

  • Dry heat is a lot different than the humid heat we’re used to
  • Be aware of the altitude, it will really leave you gasping for breath walking up a flight of stairs
  • People from Utah make fun of Utahns more than anyone else, laugh with them
  • A lot of people act like the East coast is some exotic place, just roll with it
  • You will miss trees and forests more than you think
  • Stay long enough to fully get to experience all that your new home has to offer, not just what you see on the surface
  • There’s a lot of new lingo you’ll learn in a short time
  • On a more serious note, find the things that you need to decompress and de-stress before you move, that way you will be more prepared for any possible situations

To be completely honest, I am still partial to the east coast. But, just because a place isn’t your favorite in the world doesn’t mean that you can’t still appreciate it. At what is almost the end of my sophomore year, I am almost sure that I will not end up in Utah after I graduate (but hey anything can happen right). But for now, Utah is my home and I am still discovering new parts of it that I love every day that I live here.


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