After deciding to transfer colleges, the Internet became my best friend. My search history consisted of questions about transferring, as well as tips on how to successfully make the transition. After days, hours, and weeks of researching, I thought I had the process of transferring mastered. I planned exactly how I would act, as well as the type of person I would be upon arrival at my new school. But to my surprise, transferring was nothing like I had read on Google. Sure, I knew transferring was a huge risk. Yeah, I figured starting over would be hard. But no, I never anticipated the process of transferring to be what it was.
It all started when I moved into an empty residence hall. The comparisons between my old university and my current one began immediately. Whether it was something as minuscule as the size of the bathroom stalls or as significant as the layout of the campus, the comparisons overwhelmed me. I compared everything.
Then came the loneliness. I assumed transferring to a school of 20,000 students would be intimidating, but that was an understatement. Groups of friends had already been made, and something about approaching a group of strangers who had already been together for an entire semester was terrifying.
And then came the anxiety—the anxiety over anything and absolutely everything. Anxiety over fitting in. Anxiety over meeting a stranger who was now my new roommate. Anxiety over having made the wrong decision. Anxiety over not achieving the happiness I was striving for when I made the decision to transfer.
Google didn't tell me how hard it would be to find my way around campus, let alone how hard it would be to join the race of college that everyone had already been running in. The Internet may have answered my questions about how my credits would transfer, but what it didn't tell me was the truth and what it is really like to be a transfer student.
So for those going through the terrifying process of switching from one school to another, here is the truth. Here is what admission offices and Google answers won't warn you of. Here is what they don't tell you about transferring colleges:
When you transfer, you leave a part of your life behind. You say goodbye to friends that became like family. You end a chapter of your life that you will always look back at with remorse. You erase a part of your past that cannot be redrawn.
And then you begin comparing everything about both of your schools. And it will drive you mad. You'll compare friends and you'll compare food. You'll compare parties and you'll compare professors. You won't stop comparing, no matter how hard you may try.
Then you'll inevitably reach a point when you regret your decision to transfer. You might even consider transferring back. You'll miss your old life and the way things used to be, and you'll realize you've lost so many of the things you'd taken for granted at your old school.
And then you'll visit your old school, but it won't be the same. Friend groups will have changed, relationships will have been broken, and some of the people you were once inseparable with will now be nothing more than awkward company. Your old school will look different, and you will feel completely out of place. Then you'll realize that you don't fit in anymore and the school you remembered attending will be nothing more than a distant memory. You'll realize that your old friends have changed almost to the point where you don't even recognize them. You'll learn the heartbreaking truth that your best friends' lives didn't pause when you left.
But then, after all of the heartbreak, you'll be happy. You'll realize you made the right decision. You'll realize that you transferred for a reason, and that reason won't have just gone away. And then you'll have the greatest next three years of your life at your new university. And you'll laugh at your decision to have ever even attended your old college in the first place.
Transferring colleges was the scariest thing I have ever done. It was the biggest test of my courage, as well as the best way for me to have grown up. It forced me to take risks and adapt to change. It taught me how to accept my decisions and things I cannot control, and how to be at peace with myself and my past.
Being a transfer student is something not even the Internet can explain. It's something that changed me; that molded me into the woman I am proud to be today. The Internet never warned me of the anxiety and panic attacks that came along with transferring colleges. It never told me that the things I'd taken for granted at my old school would soon be missed. It never told me that life would move on and that eventually, I will have become nothing but an old friend to those whom I once considered to be my family. The Internet may not have told me a lot of things, but the most significant piece of information it forgot to tell me was this: no matter how difficult transferring colleges may have been, it was worth it. And I'm happier now than I ever could've been at my old school.