Freshman Year & the Impossible 40 Miles
When my family dropped me off at Howard University back in August 2003 I cried. Hard. My first time without them and I was going to be so far away. Like a whole hours’ drive (an hour and a half in traffic). Emotional roller coaster. How small my world had been then (e.g. BAL – WAS = 40mi, BAL – NYC = 192mi, BAL – LON = 3628mi, BAL – HKG = 8121mi).
Sidebar: I grew up in the same house as my mother. I’m 3rd generation Baltimorean on both sides and my idea of family extends to great aunts and uncles and all of their cousins however removed. Washington, DC was a day trip and New York required careful planning and coordination (like I said, an itty, bitty world).
I couldn’t imagine being so far from them. From my friends. The transition from elementary to middle school then middle to high school were signified by early months of isolation. I have a hard time making new friends and infiltrating established groups is especially terrifying (I’m not ashamed of this anymore, I just acknowledge it and prepare). I was sure college would be the same but missing the crucial element of my family and friends to go back to at the end of a lonely day.
And you know what, it was. My roommate (sharing a room is a whole other issue that requires its own post) was a sophomore who enjoyed hanging out with her friends and taking advantage of my over-preparedness (she’d seriously set her alarm for 6:45 but wait for mine to go off at 7:15 to jump in the only shower. Still feel very strongly about that. Clearly). I ran home every weekend and I don’t think anyone realized how much I wanted to stay there.
Cut to almost exactly 4 years later and they’re dropping me off at the airport so I could fly off to Hong Kong for my new job. Somehow in 4 years I had gone from the girl crying to be picked up before her family could pull out of the parking lot to the woman moving halfway across the world. 3 years after that I jetted off to London and 4 years after that I moved to New York. I could never, would never have expected a shift of this magnitude that first day curled up on my (hard ass) dorm mattress bawling my eyes out (btw my aunt’s response was to take a nap).
College changes you. It’s like how you don’t really learn to drive until you’re by yourself in the car. And as so many folks are starting their first, second, third, or final years of college I want y’all to remember that you’re going to come out different. Not complete (I believe you’re unfinished until you’re finished) but definitely not the same. And how exciting is that?
How did college change you? And if not college, what life experience caused the most surprising change?