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?