The “west side” as it was described was some place wet, temperate and most of all regarded as being liberal. Apprehensions soared when I made the trip over the pass, from conservative dry Washington. Of course this was not the first time I had driven over to the pass, yet it was the first time that I had driven over to stay.
My small town had a curfew for all of the teenagers set at 11pm and so the nightlife had always been lackluster. A good time had often been referred to as four guys cracking a sixty pack of beer open and attempting to drain it all in a night; the consumption of fifteen Coors per individual is not recommended.
I am someone who never smokes and rarely drinks I had every concern that I would not fit into the social norms at Western. I in fact didn’t and that might be the best thing that ever happened to me.
Western Washington University is a school of character diversity. While I wouldn’t be surprised to find a message of “lets lynch her” in my home town it was shocking when that happened here and literally shut down the university, that isn’t WWU, that isn’t the Western that embraced me with open arms when I moved from the red side of the state to the blue. Back home we had quiet evenings filled with video games and fishing. At Western that was of course an option, but more options were available and I kept one rule for my self ‘never say no to an invitation that’s within your morals’. My first quarter I found myself SCUBA diving with a person who would later become my best friend. I made it to almost every single home volleyball and basketball game. I found my self carving pumpkins with a Japanese conversation partner and watching Zombieland. I watched new movies with new friends and I ate Pho for the first time in my life. I did things I never could have imagined doing at home, I hiked every single weekend and took public transit.
As I spent more time saying yes to new things and absorbing the climate of Bellingham I slowly lost touch with the place I had grown up. I saw myself evolving, I soon realized that the key to making people happy was inclusion and being open and forward. I shed some outdated ideals that I had long harbored and the place I called home changed into this sparkling city on the bay.