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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Out-of-state students conclude long journey

    College is a milestone in any young adult’s life. For most freshmen, college is a time to leave home, replace parents with resident assistants and share close quarters with an individual that you may or may not have met before.

    The time leading up to this transition is often filled with tears and goodbyes. Abandoning relationships that have been built over the past four years, seven years or even a lifetime can be traumatic for anybody.

    Some freshmen begin their journey only miles or hours from home. For out-of-state students, though, this isn’t necessarily the case. The miles and hours double while families drive their cars across borders and fly in planes over foreign terrain.

    The unfamiliarity of college life is both nerve-racking and exciting. Moving to a new state and leaving behind friends and family is simultaneously empowering and overwhelming.

    You have this newfound independence, but independence runs the risk of loneliness, at times.

    You are no longer provided the luxury of your support systems being there for you when you need them. You will no longer come home to the smell of dinner cooking and the sounds of your family laughing. Your friends aren’t at your beck nor call when something exciting or heart-breaking happens.

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    You’re packing up your life and leaving behind every bit of familiarity. In the weeks leading up to your departure, you can’t help but wonder if you made the right decision, if you’re really ready to start your life over.

    As the last days of summer slide by, you begin to sort through your life.

    You decide what items you can bear to discard and what you can’t imagine living without. You start living out of boxes, and at times, the fear of leaving is so suffocating that you feel you’re trapped in a box yourself.

    You say your final farewells to your friends, your family pet, your belongings and your parents.

    You load your possessions into planes, trains and automobiles and pull away from your home for the last time. You were so sure about leaving for so long, and now that it’s actually happening, it doesn’t feel real.

    As you unload your life from boxes, you begin to be able to breathe again. Being away from home is no longer a suffocating thought—it’s a relieving reality.

    You begin to realize that your things are exactly what they are—things. These things can be repurposed in this new environment, just like you can be.

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    Not long after your parents say their final goodbyes, you begin to find your place. You find your niche in a group of people quicker than you could have ever imagined.

    Suddenly, all of the reservations you had about leaving feel so passé.

    The best way to find your place in a new community is to seize every opportunity presented to you. There are so many other kids who are in the same position as you—everyone is just trying to find where they belong in their new home.

    The new friendships feel anything but new. Knowing someone for 24 hours feels like 24 months. Despite the part of you that still misses home, you realize that the safety net that you abandoned has already been reformed.

    Leaving behind everything and everyone you know is terrifying, but once you take the leap, you can’t imagine this new experience going any other way.

    Follow Claudia Drace on Twitter

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