When I was 17 years old, I packed everything I owned into my Nissan and drove 1,100 miles away with my dad to my new home in Michigan for college. Though I considered myself a pretty independent person, I had never lived on my own before. I was terrified. I was going to a new city that I’d only visited once to live in for at least four years, and I knew absolutely no one. The first few months in Michigan were brutal - I cried a lot and spent many nights on the phone with my parents and friends from home.
Now, five years later, I have learned and grown more than I ever thought I could. I have found passions that I never knew I had. I changed my mind about what I wanted to study a few too many times, but I’ve found something I absolutely adore and will have my Master’s from the same university in five months! There’s a lot I wish I would have known when I moved away from home for college, and I will share some of those things with you:
1. You’ll miss everything
Have you ever had a bad breakup where everything made you think of that person for a while after - songs, that one phrase he used to always say, etc? That’s how I felt my first few months in Michigan. I moved from a town in Louisiana that, admittedly, I hated while I lived there, but all of a sudden everything about it made me miss it. Someone says “y’all”? Homesick. Someone talks about Friday night football? Homesick. Your professor mentions that one thing you learned in your favorite class in high school? Homesick. It’s rough, and it lead to a lot of emotions, but I eventually got used to being away from home (and I appreciate my little hometown a lot more now)!
2. You’ll be jealous of those who live nearby
I knew from my junior year of high school that I wanted to go away for college. I wanted to live somewhere new and be independent. I realized very quickly all of the perks of living nearby. I am still jealous of all of my peers who get to go home on weekends to be with their family and friends. They go home to do their laundry and eat their mom’s food (which I would kill for some days). The positive to feeling this jealousy is just how much you relish that time home with your family for school breaks.
3. You will constantly be out of your comfort zone
I was prepared to live in a new city, but I was not prepared for how different Michigan would be from where I grew up. I had to get used to the accent and the customs of the people here. I had to admit to not knowing things (“Sorry, when you say beach you mean a lake?”) and step out of my comfort zone to make friends (because I literally knew no one). I learned to be comfortable in my discomfort, and I can credit a lot of the growth I’ve done to that.
4. It’ll be unforgettable
Though this isn’t the experience of everyone who moves away for college, I completely fell in love with the town I moved to. I still live here, and I could not imagine my college career anywhere else. I made the best friends in the world. When I go back to Louisiana now, they tell me I have a Michigan accent. I found my passions here and am following them around the world.
Going far away for college is a terrifying concept, but an experience that will require you to grow and learn in ways you could never expect. It is definitely not the easy way to do college, but it is by far the most challenging in the best way possible. I feel so thankful that I stumbled across this university and everything it has offered me. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else for the last five years.
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