For so long, I dreamt about getting out of my hometown. I lived in the same house for eighteen years. I went to middle and high school on the same street I grew up on. I watched people move in, move away, or stay as many years as I had. I was perpetually bored, tired of the cold Chicago winters, and ready for something new.

Maybe you were in the same position. Tired of the same faces, tired of the same town, the same places; and so you found yourself wherever you are now. For me, that’s across the country at New Mexico State University. But wherever you are, far away from home, I bet we have a few things in common.

You probably miss the regional food chains more than you expected, and you know nothing can compare to that one burger, or hotdog, or pizza. You probably miss being able to talk and not having people ask “Wait. Your accent, where are you from?” and then when you tell them, having them ask every single stereotypical question imaginable. Speaking of accents, if you have a heavy one like me, you might just miss being able to speak without someone mimicking the way you talk.

But then there’s the things you miss that you can’t explain. The way it smells after it rains is never the same in any two places; and it’s strange, but even the air tastes a little different when you breathe. The hardest part to explain is the vibes themselves; the feel your hometown gives you is unlike any other. Don’t get me wrong, you might love your far away school as much as I do, but nowhere has the same feeling as your home.

I want you to know you aren’t alone. The days you feel surrounded by strangers, the lone black sheep; you aren’t the only one. Whether it’s someone on your campus, someone on a campus across the country, or maybe even someone on a campus close to your hometown, you aren’t alone. Not everyone who goes to school is a four hour drive away; for many, it’s a four hour flight...and that's still not even scratching the surface for some.

We’re the kids who dared to go on a grand journey, to plunge headfirst into something totally unknown. We might’ve had expectations, but if they weren’t met, they were either defied or changed. You’re one of the brave kids who took a deep breath and left it all behind in search of something greater, of something different. There’s something special about someone who risks it all, venturing away from every friend ever known, and you’ve got that something special. It’s a sense of adventure and the guts to follow through.

It can be hard, perhaps being friends with the instate kids who go home once a month, or even being friends with the girl who’s from a different kind of far away. It can be hard to relate on the nights you just want to curl up and listen to the traffic on your street or the crickets in your grass, and no one knows what they sound like. That’s what sets you apart, though. You’re a special kind who saw the chance and seized it, and will persevere through the homesickness and longing...and someday, sooner or later, this place will have the same vibes as home too.