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A New Home Away (exactly 2,940 miles) from Home

There is a level of comfort and sense of community from growing up in a small town. It not only gives you the foundation to move forward but also makes it hard to leave. I recognize that I was incredibly fortunate to grow up in a cozy hometown where my neighbors raised me as much as my parents did and that I have had the same best friends for over a decade. When I got to my senior year in high school, I had to make the decision to either go to school close to my comfort zone and developed life or start fresh and challenge myself in a way that I couldn’t have possibly prepared for ahead of time.

Some of my best friends and I at an OSU football game

Planning to study Ocean Science, it had been a goal of mine for years to go to school out on the West Coast and learn about marine science from a new perspective and learn how to live totally on my own. However, when the time came to apply for college, it all of a sudden felt very real and a little intimidating. With the support of my parents to challenge myself, I committed to the Honors College at OSU.

My first few weeks at OSU were a whirlwind of finding classes, meeting new people, learning about extracurriculars and on- and off-campus opportunities. It wasn’t until everything settled in that I had time to contemplate how I was feeling. I immediately had that, “I am really, really far away from home, and I haven’t had to make a new friend in over 10 years. How did I get here?” feeling. I couldn’t seem to shake the idea that things would have been “easier” if I went to a school close to home.

Environmental Sciences Club trip to Newport, OR

I met with Kassena, one of the Honors College advisors here at OSU, to discuss class scheduling when she asked me how I was doing. When she asked that, I feel like the floodgates opened. I shared all of my concerns and feelings with a virtual stranger. Kassena shared that she was also from the East Coast, and she shared what types of techniques she found were helpful in overcoming homesickness and making the best of this experience. She suggested local hiking trails, researched certain clubs and activities, and even gave me a plant to put in my residence hall to make it feel more like home. I’m sure that for an advisor, this is just another day on the job. For me, it changed my whole perspective.

View of 3 mountains from my flight to PDX

Coming out of this experience, I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ve learned that it’s important to create a support system of peers and role models for yourself wherever you go. As John Donne famously said, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” I’ve also learned how to self-soothe. By that, I’ve learned how to find beauty and happiness in life when I need it, which I feel is a skill that one can only truly learn when they are forced to live independently. Finally, and most importantly, I’ve learned to be easy on myself. No matter how far away you come from or what your background is, transitioning to a new way of life is challenging, and it’s important to learn how to trust in your ability to come out on top and create your own experience at OSU. Be kind to yourself and one another, and remember that no man is an island.

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