Going To College Doesn't Always Mean Leaving Home, And That's OK

Going To College Doesn't Always Mean Leaving Home, And That's OK

At the end of the day, the experience is what you make it.


When I applied to college, I never really considered the school closest to me. In my mind, it was my safety school. I was admitted on-site when they visited my high school, and that was as far as the consideration went.

Growing up so close to the school, I became desensitized to the fact it was an actual university. A fair majority of my peers ended up going there, so it seemed like a repeat of high school waiting to happen.

Instead, I longed to go somewhere that put some distance between my hometown and I. I wanted to go on my own journey of self-discovery, away from the town and house I had lived in my entire life.

Luckily enough for me, I found that journey of discovery at the school I had never given a fair chance to.

My freshman year I commuted the 20 minutes to and from school every day, but that didn't stop me from getting involved. I joined a club sport and got a job on campus. I fell in love with the team, my job, and campus. I met new people and explored the city and through the guidance of the school's academic advisors, I found the perfect major for me.

Alas, all of that didn't come without its own set of challenges. As a first-generation college student, it was tough to know what to expect. The line between high school and college was hard to walk, especially with a younger sibling still in high school. My mom still called when she thought I was out too late, and we had many conversations about how things weren't the same.

Even though it felt like I was just going through the motions like always, things were changing and I didn't really notice the subtleties.

By the end of my first semester, we had become accustomed to the changes and it wasn't as big of a deal. I came home, we talked about our days, and we all continued doing what we had to.

By the end of the second, I was able to look back on my first year and saw the moments I wouldn't have seen otherwise. I got to go home and see my family, sleep in my own bed, and cuddle on the couch with my cat at the end of the day, whether it was good or bad. I also got the chance to ease into college on my own terms rather than being in a new place where I had to learn everything.

For my second year, I decided to live in a house close to campus with teammates, and it has been a blast.

This little change also led me to take up more opportunities to get involved on campus, as well as gave me a new lens to look at my college experience. Not only that, I was able to really immerse myself and make my college experience my own.

Now, I have friends that I couldn't imagine life without. I'm still playing my sport and continuing to become more involved in my community. I still visit home when I get the chance. I still see my friends from high school when they're home. I am still discovering myself.

As for a repeat of high school, it has been anything but. At the end of the day, the experience is what you make it. I've seen people from high school around campus, even in classes, but who doesn't like seeing a familiar face every once in a while?

We often hear that hindsight is 20/20, and that is most definitely the case when I think about my experience. Who knew not going where I thought I belonged would actually lead me right to the place I do?

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 A.M. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest,

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old doom room is now filled with two freshman trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Hey ECU, We Really Need Some More Parking, But Sure, Go Ahead And Spend The Money On ANOTHER Student Center

Seriously, who decides what our tuition should be spent on?


I get the "I'm here" text, and I bound down the stairs and plop myself into my friend's car. "Where can I park?" Craning my neck to search for an empty spot, I reply, "Wherever you see an open spot. This is war." We spend the first 15 minutes of our visit together driving around, waiting for those blessed white lights to signal someone leaving.

Later on that night, my friend mentions they're hungry. I hype them up to go to the new student center, given all the options. "Should we drive to it?"

I laugh, "And give up our spot?" We pull up the bus schedule and wait for the next one.

While munching on Canes' chicken, we sit and talk. "This place is HUGE." I shrug, and then they ask, "You don't like it?" I sigh and proceed to tell them what I'm about to tell you.

I love the student center. It's cool. A nice place to do homework, and it does give more options for food. But I remind my friend about our parking ordeal. "We need more parking but… Did they spend our money to build this instead? We didn't NEED this."

This may not seem like a big deal, but this isn't the only problem students have on campus.

We are shocked when we have hot showers. We are paying literal thousands to be here, and yet hot showers is a treat. Isn't that kind of a basic expectation?

There are about 400 students living in my residence hall, but we only have about 16 clothes washers and dryers. People won't move their stuff in a timely manner, so we have to wait (or some people just take your clothes out).

My friend is having to go on the "Elimination Diet", due to the fact that she constantly breaks out into heat rashes all the time, which may actually be allergic reactions to some food she's eating. But how can she even maintain this when the dining halls really offer no healthy food options?

Buses are continuously overcrowded. But we will see buses continuing routes, with the words "NOT IN SERVICE". People stand around and wait for the next one.

When walking to the library from my dorm (because the bus is overcrowded), I can spot an unfinished, unnecessary sidewalk that ends in the middle of… nowhere. They took the time and resources to build a sidewalk with no purpose.

I'm not trying to complain. I'm trying to bring attention. We have a new student center, but we can't have hot showers?

I feel like things need to be re-prioritized.

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