Going To College Hours Away From Home

To My Family 14 Hours Away, Distance Has Nothing On Us

Suddenly, FaceTime has become my best friend.

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Moving to Rhode Island from Charleston, South Carolina was an adjustment, to say the least. In the weeks leading up to the big move, relatives and friends were asking me if I had enough warm clothes and enough of my belongings to last until the end of the school year. I was, after all, moving 14 hours away from home, so if I forgot something, it wasn't exactly a short ride to go back and get it. It was odd realizing that for the first time in my life I would be living under a different roof than my family members.

When I first got here, I wasn't able to FaceTime due to how hectic the first few days of school were. Between getting to know my professors, trying to figure out all the various online portals, and rereading syllabus after syllabus, I was a bit overwhelmed. It was a lot.

I finally got the opportunity to talk to my family after a few long days. I missed them and just the sound of their voice made me feel like I was back with them. I wasn't homesick, but I wasn't exactly fully comfortable here in Rhode Island yet either. Everything was so new, and they were really the only things that were familiar so far. I loved the newness of it all, but I was stuck in this weird headspace where I wanted to be with my family but I didn't want to leave school.

There I was, talking to my family for the first time since they'd dropped me off. They were all sitting in their homes, hours away from me in my dorm room. We FaceTimed almost every day that first week. Somehow, as this routine continued, they started to feel closer to me and less far away. Physically, multiple states separated me from my parents and little brother. But mentally, I felt closer to them somehow. It was strange. As weeks progressed, our FaceTiming became less frequent, but I found that when we did talk, it was for an hour or two, catching each other up on what we'd missed.

My brother is starting for my old high school football team. My mom started two new jobs. My dad drove to Michigan for my cousin's wedding. It is crazy. They're all there, living their life, and here I am, living mine. We are all still connected, even though I am so far from home.

FaceTime has become a two-to-three times a week thing. I get the scores of the local football game from my parents and videos of my little brother on the field. He sends me Snapchats every morning at 6:30 when he starts his day. My mom texts me funny things that happen to her and pictures of my dogs. My dad sends me selfies. Seeing their names on my phone is great, especially because I know that without them, I wouldn't be at a school like this. My family made me independent. They pushed me to go to the school of my dreams, even if it isn't close to them geographically.

I love it here. I have made more genuine friends than I thought possible. I have gotten involved with unique organizations that I am so passionate about. I have explored this state with new people and gone adventuring with my roommate. I am happy. And I get to have my family with me, every step of the way, even if they do live 14 hours away.

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Why Fordham Should Have a Safe Space Policy

On a campus committed to it's student's safety, why is emotional safety left out?

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Last year college Republicans were asked to leave Rodrigue's coffee house for provoking members by wearing pro-Trump attire within the shop. The reason they were asked to leave was because Rodrigue's upholds a "safe space" policy, which can be boiled down to the simple phrase: "No racism. No sexism. No homophobia." In the eyes of the members and patrons of Rod's, Trump embodied all of these things. Regardless of the politics of this specific incident, the phrase and policy seems redundant because this rhetoric can't possibly be allowed anywhere else on campus. Right?

As this incident made campus as well as national news Father McShane addressed the events in an e-mail to all students in which he made it clear he did not condone the approach of the College Republicans, as well as stated that Fordham has no official Safe Space policy and insinuated if it did this would silence voices on campus.

Let's examine what a safe space policy means and why it's important to so many members of the Fordham community. It simply means homophobic, sexist, and racist imagery and speech are not allowed. On a campus with racial minority, female, and queer students who chose to be members of the Fordham community as well as study here, live here, and pay obscene amounts of money to be a student, it does not make sense for these individuals to be subjected to abuses related to their identity. How can you focus in class when your professor misgenders you, a student makes a disparaging comment about your religion, or you fear for your physical safety due to the way you present yourself? Bigoted rhetoric is oppositional to academia.

Fordham is a private university, not a public one, and could easily legislate a basic safe space guideline on campus. I understand many of us that a safe space policy would protect do not experience outward aggression often, if at all, as the University does take steps to ensure our safety. So why no official policy? The answer is simple to me: money. Fordham receives hefty donations from conservative alumni whose own political ideology is contrary to the safe space policy. The choice to not outwardly support minority students is a decidedly economic and political one, despite Father McShane's plea for political peace on campus.

And what is wrong with silencing hateful voices? Tolerance is an incredibly important value, but should tolerance really extend to the intolerant? I found the logic behind not installing the policy as it would politically oppress individuals, incredibly interesting and telling. This means your politics are fatally bigoted and I would take a critical look at that. It's intrinsic to our perception of our school to remember that colleges are businesses and it is sometimes their prerogative to meet economic needs above the needs of their student body. However, this is hopeful. As patrons of this business, we can demand more of them and the most effective way to do this is economical. Invest money in places such as Rodrigue's to expand their voice, have your parents write letters to the school, tell at-risk individuals to not apply, and encourage alumni to earmark their money for minority student initiatives or withhold it unless the school legislates a safe space policy.

We as a student body should care for one another and above all respect the personhood of everyone on and off campus. Consider honoring the policy in your own lives and social circles, and demand Fordham to officially do the same.

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