Westchester County was my first home, and up until moving into college, it was the only place I ever resided. I grew up going to the same school district from kindergarten through high school and seldom traveled more than an hour or two away. Westchester was all I really knew, and I know it very well having lived here for over 18 years.

I'll admit it: as a child, I wasn't so sure I loved Westchester. I dreamed of moving to places with a warmer climate like Miami or Las Angeles where all of the celebrities are. Westchester seemed too boring and I didn't like the idea that many people had no idea where it was; I'd always have to tell them "it's like half an hour from the city."

It wasn't until I moved to college and began feeling immense homesickness that I grew such a strong appreciation for my county. Although I only go to college about an hour and a half away from home, the two counties felt like two completely different worlds, from the physical appearance to the food.

Hearing stories at school about where people from all over New York and even out of state grew up always amazes me because of the many differences. Although there are a lot of similarities about our upbringings such as the television shows we watched or the games we played, so many things about our young lives contrast. Even people from just a few counties away from me had such a different childhood and teenage experience than I had simply because of where we lived.

When I listen to my friends speaking about their hometowns, they all seem really nice, yet I still can't help thinking that I'm really glad I grew up where I did. I learn to further appreciate the freedom we had in our high school, the size of my town, the people that live here, and so much more. At this point in my life, I feel so much pride in my county that I can't wait for friends from school to come see my lifestyle here.

Even if I didn't believe it much as a child, there are so many incredible aspects of Westchester that make it stand out from other counties. We get enough snow that I've got to experience snow days and building snow men as a kid, without having to obtain two feet of snow. Westchester has so many incredible restaurants in very diverse styles. Like every other county, there are people that aren't the nicest, but for the most part, people here are very kind. A lot of Westchester has an incredibly beautiful landscape. There are actually a wide variety of activities to do within a small radius. I could go on for hours about everything that makes Westchester special.

I've learned that even if Westchester isn't the most well-known or spoken about county, I actually appreciate those characteristics. In no way do I live in the middle of nowhere, yet I also don't live in a chaotic or hectic town. Westchester is very "normal," and I'm more than okay with that. I now believe that places like Miami or L.A. are fun destinations to vacation, but a place like Westchester is much better to live in.

Living in Westchester County for almost two decades has provided me so much to be grateful for. I was able to attend a very respected public school district, always felt safe walking around town, and I've met so many great people. I feel as though Weschester has shaped me into a respected and kind person that I can be proud of.

I'm pleased to say that when I grow older and have children, I'll be overjoyed to bring them to Westchester to see where mommy lived and I hope that they love it and all its beauty as much as I do. I'm not sure what the future holds for me in terms of where I'll settle down and start a family. Although I'd recommend living in Westchester to anyone searching for a home, I know it's very possible that I may stray and no longer call this place home. Yet no matter where I end up, Wetchester will always hold a special place in my heart.