From OR to MN: My Experience Moving 1,500 Miles from My Family

About a year ago, I had the brilliant idea of traveling over halfway across the country, just for fun… and for college, I guess. The only thing I had to do was convince my mom to watch my dog for the eight months I’ll be away and ask my dad if he was willing to drive the 1,500 miles with me, from Portland, Oregon, to Winona, Minnesota. 


Why Minnesota? Why Winona, of all places? I met a friend online who goes here (she’s currently my roommate) and it would have cost me roughly the same amount as it would to go to any university in Oregon, so I figured why not step out of my comfort zone and try something new? The idea of living on my own and learning how to be more independent, while also having the opportunity to start fresh in a place where virtually no one knew me, made the move very appealing. My eagerness was obvious, as I had packed almost three boxes of my stuff months before I was due to leave. 


Leading up to my departure, I had only feelings of excitement for the new adventure that was waiting for me. It was only in the two-or-so weeks before I was setting off that new feelings emerged. I have never been away from my family for more than three weeks at a time, and I usually get very homesick by the end of week two. How would I cope with not being able to hug my mom, snuggle my dog in the morning, or visit my nephew when I was missing his sweet face? These were all things I was able to do on a whim whenever my heart desired that I would no longer have immediate access to. 


On top of those anxieties that lingered in the back of my mind, there were some major health concerns in my family that had me questioning my decision to move so far away, in fear of not being close when they needed me. My dad had a stroke the week before we were supposed to leave on our road trip, so plans had to change quickly in order to get me here. Luckily, he recovered fast, but he was still unable to accompany me on the road. The night I said goodbye to him, I had a panic attack on the way home. What if he had another stroke while I was gone? I wouldn’t be able to be there for my siblings and my step-mom. What if anyone else in my family got sick or hurt? What if my dog was in trouble? In the moment, these fears consumed me. I was still crying when I got home, so I had to confess these fears to my mom. She reassured me that if something serious were to happen, I would only be a flight away, and they wouldn’t leave me out here stranded. This didn’t relieve all the anxiety I had over this subject, but it helped me become more comfortable with the fact that even though I wouldn’t be there immediately, I would still get there eventually. 


During my series of goodbyes to my family members, I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable by their sadness. To me, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I’d be home in four months for Christmas and then we would just do the four months one more time and I’d be home for a good while. After already being here for three weeks, which has felt like an eternity, I’m starting to understand why they felt the way they did. I thought it would take me longer to feel homesick and miss my home and my bed and my dog and my family so, so much. I’ve even had multiple dreams about being home for Christmas break, and I started considering saving enough money to fly home for Thanksgiving to surprise my family.


Despite feeling homesick and deeply missing the regularities of my life back home, I’m proud of myself for doing this. My goal for 2019 was to step out of my comfort zone and this is an adequate step in the right direction. I came here to work on myself, become more independent, and, hopefully, discover the path I’m going to take in life. Meeting new people, experiencing new weather, and learning about the similarities and differences between Oregonians and Minnesotans are all things I am hoping will broaden my horizons, even if it’s only just a little. 


If you’re considering doing something that’s outside of your comfort zone, but are letting your fears hold you back… just do it! You’ll become better from it, trust me.