New Territory

New Territory

The reasons going to an out-of-state school was the best decision I've ever made

College is a mysterious place. All of our lives, we imagine the crazy nights we could have, the best friends we will make, and usually, we imagine being a student at the state school we've been cheering for our entire lives. I was no different. For me, it was Florida. I didn't live too far from UF, I attended countless sporting events, and I even went to camp there for several years before college. In my mind, I was an honorary gator before I even took my SAT and ACT. I knew I would be there for four years.

But things changed when I decided I wanted be a collegiate lacrosse player. I began looking out-of-state, places far from home. Then, I happened upon a small liberal arts college in Kentucky, and I was sold. The dream I looked forward to my entire life was suddenly replaced by this mystery school 700 miles away from home. As cliché as it sounds, dreams really do come true. My new dream was realized in an acceptance letter, and with it I could not have found a more perfect home.

Here is why going to school out-of-state was the best decision I have ever made, and why I think you should leave your home state too:

1. It forces you to grow up.

College is a time to mature. Going to school out of state made the whole 'you're on your own thing' very real. You can't just drive home, and have your mom do the pile of laundry that has been building in your room for the past two weeks. Keep wishing; that laundry won't do itself. You can't just drive home because you're having a bad day. Time to figure out your own problems.

Well, that sounds terrible, right?

Actually, not really. With this taking on of new responsibilities and fulfilling them, comes a sense of self-worth and independence you just can't find going to school down the street from your childhood home. My roommate, Oyin, and I struggled sometimes, but we managed to make it work. After your first year of college, you'll be able to say you survived on your own without Mom and Dad. It's exciting, really. Who knew you were capable of so much?

2. Changing your environment.

Having lived by the beach in Florida nearly my entire life, I thought being landlocked in Kentucky would be the end of me. I couldn't have been more wrong. Moving far from home forced me to see try new things and live in a new way. I went to the Kentucky Derby, had snow days, saw the leaves change color, and discovered that there are other bodies of water besides the ocean, like lakes and rivers.

Sometimes it is easy to get sucked into your hometown, thinking its the best place and only place for you but it's important to remember that your hometown does not have everything there is to offer.

3. Social media.

Chances are you have at least one of the following social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, or Yik Yak, the list goes on. You probably also have a cell phone. Typically, cell phones have the ability to text and call people even if you leave the state. Imagine that!

It's not like you're dropping off the face of the Earth, even if your school is in the middle of nowhere. You will make new friends, and you will have the ability to continue communicating with your older ones. It will be okay.

4. You will appreciate home more than ever.

When you are around the same people in the same area for such a long time, you will inevitably get tired of them. Moving away makes the time you spend at home over holiday break much more precious. You will actually want to spend time with your friends and family. You may even go so far as to try to become a tourist in your own city (it's fun, trust me).

5. It is a chance to start over.

Going to school out-of-state gives you the chance to reinvent yourself. You can leave your past behind and start fresh. You can truly be who you want to be.

College is a time of uncertainty, and you won't be 100% comfortable in your first few weeks no matter where you go. You might as well go with your gut, whether you decide to be in-state or out-of-state.

All in all, I've made the best friends I could ever ask for and had some of my fondest experiences in my first year of college. All it took was taking a risk and heading to Kentucky.

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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.

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 dorm room is now filled with two freshmen 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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My Lake Elsinore Poppy Field Experience

This past weekend I had the chance to visit the super bloom of golden poppies, and they were quite breathtaking.


Hill after hill, California's golden flower blanketed soft sloped grassy tops that seemed to continue what felt like forever, far into the valley. The hills looked as if they were painted a bright Garibaldi orange, or coated with layers and layers of Cheetos. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and the almost glowing-orange flowers swayed back and forth in the breeze. I felt like I was in a story book or a scene from the Sound of Music. The rare infamous poppy field explosion was right in front of my eyes, and it was absolutely breathtaking.

I had gone to see the flower fields because of how much I adore flowers, and have never experienced a whole field or valley of them like this before. I wanted to be able to respectfully walk alongside the flowers, and see their blinding beauty with my very own eyes, which I did. However, MANY people at Walker Canyon, a.k.a social media influencers and Instagram addicts, were quite noticeably there just to have photo shoots and stare at their phones, checking the lighting and if they're amethyst was glimmering in the sunlight.

As wonderful, beautiful, and bright as the poppies were, and as much as I enjoyed feeling their soft silky petals, and sitting and walking beside them, taking a few photos here and there, I was annoyed with how many people were there just to strike a pose for their social media.

This magical and very RARE moment of a poppy bloom should not have people looking down at their phones, and asking their friends which pose looks better. Smell the flowers, open your eyes look up at the sky, and blind yourselves with the beauty of this natural wonder. Go outside, and actually live a little.

Despite the many people who were there just to get the photos for the likes and followers on Instagram, I am so fortunate and grateful to have had the chance to see these golden flowery fields. If you have the chance to go, look into traffic conditions, and bring a hat and lots of water! It sure was warm on that walk, so always a good idea to come prepared. I also noticed some people picking the flowers and putting them in their hair. As pretty and cute as that may look for your photo, don't do that. Please respect all spaces, and let the precious elements of life be.

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