Advice for Moving Cross Country for College

What Traveling Cross-Country for College Taught Me

I traveled 2,500 miles to go to college. Here's what my first month taught me about school, life, and myself.

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When I visited the University of Virginia during the fall of my junior year of high school, I knew I wanted to make it my new home. Raised in Southern California, the only weather I've known has been the occasional rains during the winter time. Not only did the changing leaves inspire my love of the variance the seasons bring, I felt like the university was my next big adventure that I could take.

1. You don't have to be homesick.

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Although I've always been an independent person, I was ready to feel the pangs of homesickness for my family, friends back home, and going to the beach every day. Although I do miss the ocean (there's nothing better than the coolness and the saltiness of the air!), my willingness to be open to a new place replaced those longings. It's regular to miss the people you love and your hometown, but college has so many amazing things to offer! The new connections you forge in college can keep you happy! I think that dwelling on the past distracts from the grand adventure that is in front of you.

2. Don't be afraid to branch out.

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The great thing about traveling across the country is having a clean slate. While college represents a new beginning for most people, I had the added advantage of being able to start over completely. The best thing about being at a larger school (my high school had 520 students TOTAL) is that I can meet someone new everyday. Some of my friendships have started just by simply introducing myself to the people in my classes or in my dorm.

3. Be prepared for cultural differences.

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While culture is becoming increasingly global in the digital age (especially with social media), I've noticed some stark contrasts in my time while living on the opposite coast. Different slang (what is a brick?) is all around me and I've even noticed that the music that is played at parties or social gatherings is quite different. Maybe it was just my high school or even my area, but I've noticed that significantly more people listen to EDM rather than rap. It's just interesting to see the different peoples' dress, actions, and even the things they like.

4. It's easy to get distracted by everything that's going on.

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College is a whirlwind, and getting caught up in the social aspect of it can be time consuming. Moving in and orientation and all of the football games can take up a lot of time! My advice would be to make sure that you're staying true to yourself and the reason you traveled all of this way to come to school. Uprooting yourself and moving cross country takes a lot of guts, so make sure it's worth it for you.

5. Living in a new place is an extraordinary opportunity.

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Above all, I thank my parents for providing me with this opportunity. It's such a blessing to be able to even go to college when most of the world doesn't even have this ability. It's even more of a blessing to be at the school that I fell in love with.

If I could sum up my first month of experiences in a sentence, I would say that this has been the most eye-opening experience. There will never be another time in your life when you're around so many people your same age. We all have commonalities that bind us together but we also have such amazing things to learn from one another. Here's to our next great adventure!

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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