Since the time I started looking at colleges my sophomore year of high school, I knew I would NOT be going to the University of Connecticut. It was too big, too close (I grew up in New Haven County, CT), and approximately a trillion people from my high school ended up there per year. I went to a field hockey camp there one year in the middle of July and those little dorms with no AC flipped a switch in me: this is most definitely not my school.
I had my heart set on another school, Marist. It was the perfect distance from home, great for my major, and most importantly, it was small. It felt comfortable, the atmosphere was quaint and friendly, and my tour guide was exactly the college student I wanted to be; I guess I figured that if I went there, that's the kind of person I would become.
As I toured numerous other small schools, and thought I'd fit in pretty well at all of them. But my dad had made me apply to UConn because of obvious reasons; it was a state school and his friends kids all had great things to say about it. When I heard I had gotten into the Storrs campus, I went to Accepted Students Day with a rather closed mind, truly not planning to find any reasons to go to this school.
Packed with my peers, the campus was a lot larger than I remembered from summer camp, and, admittedly, I was overwhelmed. I had always told myself I wasn't going to a big school, let alone UConn. The moment I stepped into Gampel, though, and saw the "UConn Huskies" flags and banners, the school's kick line team, and the marching band playing overenthusiastically, I realized I needed this level of spirit at my school, and I hadn't seen it anywhere else. I actually started to think "I could see myself here."
As I started to see familiar faces, the school seemed to shrink. Even though the school is a maze, it seemed at every turn I saw someone from my school. I found myself almost comfortable in a school I had convinced myself I would never be comfortable in.
I wasn't comfortable yet. What I loved most about UConn was that it made me realize I needed this challenge. I needed a bigger school to push me out of my comfort zone. That level of discomfort -- but a good kind of discomfort -- was what was missing from the smaller schools. I loved those schools because I felt so much like the people there, and the size was safe. For some people, this is exactly the way to go, but I knew for myself -- as soon as I acknowledged UConn as feasible option -- that I needed that push. I needed that slight discomfort.
As I write this, I'm sitting in a library across from my first class of my freshman year at the University of Connecticut that starts in 29 minutes. I already have gotten lost multiple times, but I know it's all part of the experience. I won't lie, I am ecstatic to see where UConn takes me; I really do love this school. I have already started to make new friends, and, although I'm a little freaked out to actually start college classes, properly manage my time, and to keep my grades high and social life balanced, I'm ready for the challenge.