“New Hampshire?…I’ve never met somebody who goes to school in New Hampshire.”-Many people back home
This reaction was something I came across often during my college tenure. I am from Los Angeles, CA- 3000 miles away from Dartmouth! Most people from my community are not very familiar with New Hampshire…I mean I surely wasn’t until visiting Dartmouth. Though very far from home, there are some great reasons to go to school outside of your hometown as my experience has shown me. Whether your hometown is much closer to NH or further than L.A., here are 4 benefits to going to school away from home.
1. Get out of your comfort zone
No matter where you go to college, you will experience change- the transition from HS, new friends, and new activities. I view college as a place of tremendous personal growth in just 4 years. Going to college away from home gives you the opportunity to experience something new. Hanover, NH is just about the complete opposite of where I grew up and what I had been exposed to. That’s what I wanted- something completely different. It’s a fresh start in an entire new place. You will have to push beyond your personal wall and open yourself up to what the new environment has to offer.
2. Experience something new
Ever seen the four seasons change before your very eyes? Ever jumped into an ice-cold pond and swam for fun? Ever gone apple picking and then made apple crisps with your friends? Ever arrived to a campus 3000 miles away from home and knew nobody? Ever participated in a community pond party where people are doing sofa races on ice? Ever star-gazed with your friends on a golf course? Ever gone to another person’s house for Thanksgiving and Easter without your family? This list could go on and on. This is a taste of my experience of all things new in New Hampshire. What is new to you post-hs will be different than my experience. Welcome change in your life. Re-locating geographically for college is one of the major ways to foster change and new experiences. Know that in being away from home, the new will probably outweigh the familiar…and that is okay! Adventure awaits!
You’ve probably heard that in going to college you gain a new level of independence. And it’s true! College is sort of like this weird stage, where you are kind of independent, but not completely so. For me, being far from home was my way of beginning to understand what it’s like to be an independent young woman. Though I could still call my family, they were no longer immediately there to pick up the pieces or do the things I didn’t want to do (like laundry lol). I had to adjust to this very different environment without them being there to guide me through each and every step. You also have the opportunity to come to terms with your identity, ideas, and beliefs in an environment that is foreign to you. What better way to really grapple with you are as a person and who you want to be. With this new gained independence I matured immensely. Being away from home isn’t always easy, but because of my experiences, I feel a bit more ready for the “real world.”
4. Understand how friends really do become family
Prior to attending Dartmouth, everybody told me, “Your college friends become your lifelong friends.” I thought sure they do, but why does college have to be that place? Dartmouth showed me how true that statement was. You live with these people, eat with them, study with them, hang out with them, and the list goes on. In such an environment, your close friends see you at your worst and at your best. They encourage you, they love with you, laugh with you, and cry with you, just like family would do. We are all maturing and experiencing this new environment together. When you are far from home, you need to have community. You need to have support systems so you know that you are not alone. As I am in my senior year, I have people at Dartmouth who mean the world to me. They are not just my friends, but my chosen family: brothers and sisters from many different backgrounds- all across the nation and the world. I knew that in going to NH, I would partake in very diverse networks and meet many new people, but I did not know what the depth these relationships would mean to me. My Dartmouth experience wouldn’t be what it was without my friend family.
I hope this post helps you think through some of your college decisions. Feel free to reply below. I am happy I took the risk to go cross-country for school. Yet, I know that going to school far away from home may not be for everybody. Whatever your decision may be, may it be brave and the right one for you.
Until next time,