College on Another Coast
Attending college in a different location from where you grew up is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences a young adult can have. Leaving the comfort and stability of your home and community is hard enough, but leaving your lifestyle and culture to move across the United States is another challenge all in itself. One of my first big steps in moving to the East Coast was buying a rain coat! I had never needed one in Southern California, however crazy that may sound. This first step was one of many that would help me acclimate to East Coast life. I had dreamed of living on the East Coast when I was younger, and I have to say that I’m a better person for it.
Many adults in my life—family, friends, and random strangers alike—are always curious about why I moved to the East Coast for college. In fact, many of them are shocked about how I could leave sunny Southern California for a wintery tundra. And my answer is always, “Why not?” I have four years to experience the East Coast, a new state, a new culture, and a markedly new experience than living in Southern California. It’s not always so easy to just get up and move when you have an established career, a family, or a house. What other chance does one have in their life when they can just pack up and move across the country with relatively no strings attached? I’m often surprised by these questions, even though I am asked them a lot, because moving away for college invites challenge and growth into one’s life, much more challenge and growth than going to college in one’s own backyard. You are required to think for yourself, problem solve, and make a whole new set of friends. Of course my parents are just a phone call away, but there is no longer a safety net on which I can fall back.
Now having lived on both coasts, I love and appreciate many things about each place. In New Hampshire, I can experience all of the seasons and the beauty that each one brings. I’ve met so many of my best friends at Dartmouth. We share comparable high school experiences and have similar outlooks on education and future careers in law, medicine, and finance, etc. At home, I have my family and long-time friends that I cherish and know are always there for me. Of course, I do miss Southern California’s sunny and 75 degree weather almost every day of the year and immediate access to Target for when I need something fast.
For anyone who is thinking about attending college in a different state, DO IT! It forces you to step outside of the comfort zone you’ve been living in for up to eighteen years. It is the most amazing opportunity for self-growth at the most opportune time in your life. If you don’t take the leap now, when will you do it? Complacency doesn’t lead to change, and college across the country (or in a different state) is the perfect place for a transformative experience.