out of state student

So, Like, Why Are You Here?

It's not easy feeling welcome as an out-of-state student, but not for the reasons you might think.


Illinoians, your state is pretty cool. Stop selling yourself short! Chicago aside (that would be its own article -- ever since I visited the major cities of our country, I've preferred Chicago over NYC and LA), you're the Land of Lincoln, rich with history, and full of pretty tasty corn. But best of all, you've got some of the best universities in the Midwest, best in the nation in many categories.

So why are people so shocked when they hear I'm from California, and I chose to come here?

A little about me: I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. My mom was a local, my dad grew up in St. Louis and moved out west to go to Stanford for grad school. I adore my state (I'm getting a tattoo inspired by the flag soon!) so yeah, why *would* I leave? Why would I go to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign? Why didn't I just go to a school in California?

Well, for one, the top schools are pretty brutal to get into, and they tend to prioritize out-of-state and international students, often for financial reasons. Many universities do this, and that's fine! I think it's great to increase the diversity of campuses and unite people from many backgrounds. That said, it doesn't make things easy for Californian students. I was admitted to some excellent California schools, but not the ones I was truly hoping for.

Meanwhile, the magic I felt when I visited UIUC was always in the back of my head. Everyone was so welcoming despite it being such a large school, and I continually saw it on lists of underrated schools in the nation. The beliefs and values of the community were very similar to those that I loved most about my home. I was very impressed with the psychology department (my major). I remember when I ran outside of my physics class senior year, freaking out because I got the email, "You're an Illini!" My teacher even gave me the rest of class off to call my family and celebrate.

After this exciting experience back home, I had no idea that my classmates would be so shocked to hear I was from California.

The questions I'm always asked haunt me. "Why are you here? Isn't California so great? Don't you miss how sunny it is every day?" Rarely do people ask me why I chose this school, the way people from California do. I want to talk about how much I love UIUC and what brought me to this school and not have to explain that, no, the entire state of California is not sunny every single day, yes I have seen snow before, no I don't go to In-N-Out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I get it: people aren't setting out to make me feel unwelcome. They're just curious. But a lot of times, I leave that interaction feeling like I don't belong here. Meeting a fellow out-of-state student or an international student from a nation that is less represented at our school is a breath of fresh air. I feel like I've made an instant friend. We laugh about the kinds of questions we receive, and how uncomfortable it is to have to explain what should be fairly simple: we came here because we like the school, just like in-state students.

So, in-state students, I have one thing to ask if you want to help make your out-of-state and international classmates feel more welcome at your school. Next time you run into one of us, give us a chance to tell our stories. Try to refrain from making assumptions about our home state or country. Focus on our similarities rather than our differences. Recognize that the fact we chose to join your community is a compliment! We are here for the exact same reasons you are: to learn, make friends, and forge a path for the rest of our lives.

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The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.

When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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Summer And Jobs

Working summers doesn't have to be tedious.


Like many other college students, I was ready for summer but was kinda bummed that I had to work. Its not that I didn't like where I was working, I actually was really lucky to be working in a hospital environment but I just hated being alone all summer from 9-5. I've had this job for a few years now and a few other paid interns came and went but I never really connected with any of them. This year is different though.

I got really lucky to have another intern work with me that was very similar to me. The tasks we got were always simple but they were made to be more fun because I got to do them while talking with someone else. Now I actually enjoy and look forward to going to work.

The key to finding a good job is finding one that you enjoy doing and one that will help you gain knowledge that will help you out with future career plans. Working with friends also make tasks enjoyable! I would be careful with working with your friend however because if your job needs you to be serious and focused, being around your best friends may distract you from that.

Another thing that definitely makes summer jobs more enjoyable are taking breaks! It is your summer vacation after all! I'm not saying don't take a day off just to sit around, but if you make plans with family and friends, take a Friday off and enjoy the warm weather and good company! Employers understand that us college students and on break and have lives, they are usually very lenient with days off!

If you have to do a summer job to make money to live off of or pay for college, the best thing to do is look at the big picture. If you don't enjoy your job but can't afford to quit, remember that the money if going to help you out a lot. Also, this job is probably only for the summer right? So it's not permanent my friend! Get through these annoying few weeks and you will be back at college, taking steps for a bigger and brighter future.

Summer jobs are tough, I know, but make the most of it! And don't forget to enjoy it whenever you can!!!


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