As someone who comes from a town that most people my age are trying to escape from, it's easy for me to say that going to an in-state school was never an option. I applied to one in-state school just in case I somehow changed my mind, but that was never the plan I had in my mind. I always envisioned myself at a big, out-of-state university where I would have the opportunity to explore someplace other than where I had spent my entire life. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to go to school six hours away from home, and to be honest, it's everything I have expected it to be and more.

For one, I'm kind of living on my own for the most part. Obviously I have my roommates and friends I've made, but my family lives in a different state. I can't just go home on the weekends whenever I feel like it, and if I'm in a tough situation, I have to be independent. I'm used to my parents hovering over my shoulders whenever I'm trying to make a decision, and even though I love them both very much, it's nice to be completely in control of my choices.

Secondly, I've had the chance to meet and make friends with people I never would have known existed had I gone to school back home. Of course that statement would be true no matter what college I could have chosen, but the people I've met here come from all over. I'm used to being in an area where most people agree with me on lots of things, but it's refreshing to meet someone who affiliates with a different political party, or whose hobbies are different than mine based on their environment.

I also feel like I'm being challenged more on an emotional level by coming to an out-of-state school. It's especially hard for me to be away from my family and friends, and I occasionally find myself missing even the smaller things, like my cat and my record player. I've discovered new interests and passions, however, that have taken up time I used to waste at home.

Sometimes I do think it would be nice if I was maybe just a tad closer to home and could drive home whenever, but overall, I think I made the right decision to go out-of-state. I've already signed a lease for an apartment next year, started scouting for a job to get over the summer, and have made amazing new friends I wouldn't have found had I stayed closer to home. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed and anxious, it's easier now for me to turn to what I have at my new home than for me to run back to everything I'm used to. And I think that makes this experience worth it.