From doubt to excitement and everything in between. All the emotions that come with leaving your college town.
When a person spends a prolonged period of time in one place, you form a connection to it. The little things such as the friendly neighbor you see walking their dog every morning to your favorite cashier at the convenience store all become staples in your life without you even realizing it. Spending four years in your college town becomes your home away from home. We all talk about leaving our hometown, but no one talks about leaving your college town.
In four years, a person can change a lot. However, college is a pressure cooker of change. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, you are not the same person you were in freshman year. Change is familiar to us here, whereas it is threatening and confusing elsewhere.
For the most part, many people will rarely find themselves living back in their college towns. Most of us will try to make the journey back to visit the old hangout spots, but the community will not be the same. This was a place where you grew up, became independent, met your best friends, loved, had your heart broken, had achievements, and learned to fail. It is rare for us to live in the same place as our friends, so leaving that comfort zone is challenging and upsetting. It’s also the little things of not being able to eat at your favorite restaurant for some time, or leaving behind your favorite hiking trail or coffee spot. All these things that we took for granted every year is now something so special. Because of this, you will always feel a sense of loyalty and nostalgia when thinking about it.
But, this is the place that made me into the person I am today. If anything it’s a bittersweet feeling because if I can survive here, I can (more like hope and pray) make it anywhere. On one hand this place makes me feel nostalgic, but it did change me and prepared me for what’s to come next as I have been able to become a real adult for the most part.
I think when leaving school we get so wrapped up in what’s to come next, and feeling anxiety that we forget all that we are prepared for. While I do feel all these emotions, I think above all I’m excited to show everyone the person I am today because of the community I had behind me. I am leaving the safety net that has protected me for the past four years and letting it go in a short period of time. This last year for me will be spent cherishing my favorite hike, adding onto my tip for the barista who has made my coffee order oh so perfect, and getting my favorite appetizer anytime I got to my favorite restaurant because I deserve it.
My countdown clock for the first time has made itself apparent to me, so I intend to truly make the most of my last year reaping the benefits that my home away from home has to offer. For the incoming freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, I urge you to take recognition of that now. Instead of waiting for your “lasts” of everything, look forward to your seconds, thirds, etc. I’m not ready to have my last bowl of ramen from my favorite restaurant, but I am certainly looking forward to the first bowl I get when I get back.