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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Washington chapter.

Around this time last year, I recall dragging one-too-many suitcases to the airport, each one stuffed with every article of clothing I was certain I’d need for my very first year of college. I said tearful goodbyes to all my hometown friends (whom I had yet to refer to as “hometown friends”) and watched as my home faded away into the distance. 

This was it: I was moving away to college. Away from my friends and family, away from my house and pets, away from the life I had gotten used to for the past eighteen years. A new life was standing right before me, one best described in a single word: unknown. 

Everything during those first few weeks was, to me, colored by a sense of uncertainty. In a way that I had never experienced before, everything seemed entirely new. There was no routine to fall back on, no familiar place to seek shelter in, no step-by-step guideline on how to live my new life. It was incredibly scary, but – in many ways – it was also rather exciting. I felt as if there was an overwhelming sense of freedom sitting on my doorstep – I simply had to work up the courage to go and claim it. Navigating this duality between fear and freedom is what I remember most about my first few weeks away from home. 

With that said, these first few weeks of my second year have been an entirely different experience. To me, leaving for college (round two) feels like seeing a familiar face in the hallway, not quite knowing whether or not the face is one you recognize. 

Familiar, But Different

Even though I’ve quickly fallen into a familiar routine – walking to campus and listening to music, getting coffee after class, studying in my favorite study spots – everything feels slightly different, as if I am looking at college through a new lens. In many ways, things just don’t feel as new as they did last year. Despite its stressful nature, moving into college for the first time created feelings and experiences that were entirely unique to the situation. I will never forget my first week after my parents flew back home – making friends on Denny Field, roaming around campus (and getting lost) with my roommate, trying the dining hall food for the first time, knocking on random doors throughout my dorm, and so much more. 

All of these experiences felt shiny and new, a feeling that has simply not been replicated this time around. I think this change not only has to do with the fact that this – to use a common phrase – “ain’t my first rodeo,” but also because of the different connotations that come with being a second-year student rather than a first-year. In other words, entering my second year of college seems to mean that it’s time to get serious. 


When I was leaving for college for the first time, everyone told me to simply have a great time. To make memories. To make friends. To have fun. Of course, there was talk about getting good grades and thinking about my career, but it was not as emphasized as I feel it is now. Now that I am a second-year student, it seems that – all of a sudden and all at once – I need to know exactly what I’m doing. I need to have a plan. I need to have everything in order. I need to find jobs, to find internships, to get ready for the real world. 

In some sense, this is true; I’m here at the University of Washington to get a degree and prepare for my future career. With that said, I was not expecting everything to feel so sudden and so urgent. I suppose this is a feeling that I will have to continue grappling with – it’s simply a part of this new chapter in my academic journey. 


Leaving for college may have felt incredibly different than it did last year, but I’m still certain of one thing: starting a new chapter means that there are so many new people to meet, new things to learn, and new experiences to have, which is pretty exciting. 

Perhaps next year I’ll write an article entitled “Leaving for College (Round Three),” filled with all my wisdom about this year and wonder about the next one. Until then, I hope all my readers have a great year of school – whatever year that may be! 

Tara Boyd

Washington '26

Tara is a second year student at the University of Washington. She is studying English Literature and hopes to one day be an author. In her free time, Tara can be found reading, dancing, going to concerts, and spending time with loved ones!