Take in the familiar sights, smells, and faces of your community. Can you bear to be without them? Can you imagine embarking on a journey in which an institution offers you glory, but at the cost of sacrificing seeing the familiar sights, taking in the familiar smells, and forgetting the familiar faces you have grown accustomed to? Most importantly, would your parents let you?
I began thinking about these questions after I met with some high school counselors who wanted to change parents’ perceptions about letting their kids go far from the roost for college. It is a valid issue; I have known many people who stifled their educational aspirations when parents refused to let them leave the state, let alone the city, for college. I have also known many students, for fear of leaving their community behind, who never applied to colleges more than 50 miles away from home; come to think of it, I was one of them.
Good ol’ highway 34; a long stretch of road that connects many of the sleepy and dusty rural towns in the northeast plains of Colorado. This road connected my hometown to my alma mater in only a matter of 45 minutes! It was this road that paved my comfortable life in college-never too far from home, so that if I ever did get homesick in my apartment, I could rush home and eat amazing Mexican food or hang out with my siblings. Life was good, but I was boxed in; I was coddled in this state, and my tunnel of vision was only focused on my immediate surroundings. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around issues happening in other parts of the world.
“Y, mijita…tu crees que te va gustar Boston? No te vas a sentir solita? Sabes cocinar???” My mom plagued me with these questions as I packed my suitcases to head to Boston for my graduate degree. I knew she was excited for me, but deep down, I knew she wished she could just tell me no. “Madre, voy a estar bien, okay? Mira, un año pasa rapidisimo. Estare aqui antes de que me empiezes a extrañar.” As I reassured my mother, I couldn’t help but feel pangs of sadness. I was so comfortable in my home state- nothing ever rattled me and I knew my way around. Why rock the boat?
Needless to say, I have been rattled, ruffled, and scared in Boston. I arrived as a wide-eyed Country bumpkin, being easily impressed with all the sights and sounds of the big city (Ooooh, you mean to tell me taxis aren’t just in movies??). I met people from many different backgrounds, and most importantly, I accomplished what I set out to do: earn my graduate degree…at the cost of sacrificing the familiar sights, smells, and faces of my community in the small, dusty town of Colorado, but also gaining new “familiarities”, if you will.
I stroll into my favorite coffee shop in Inman square-1369-and order the usual. The familiar smell of Vietnamese coffee wafts out of the Styrofoam cup. I drive down to my favorite mechanic in Watertown, “Hey honey, what can I do ya for?” I drive to my favorite sight in all of Cambridge: Memorial drive. As I drive to my apartment, I can’t help but feel at home; it’s become familiar and comfortable.
The point is: take a chance to forget the familiar sights, smells and faces of your community. Yes, they are comforting and familiar, but college is a chance to pave your own way and make your own comforts and your own familiarities.