Far From Home

Why I decided to choose a college thousands of miles away from my home.

By Ellie Younger February 1, 2021
U-M Diag

I grew up in the shadows of beautiful pacific northwest pine trees. I had the coast an hour away in one direction, and the mountains an hour in the other. Many people questioned why I ever wanted to leave a state that held such beauty and my family.

Personally, I knew from a young age that I wanted to use college as a time for adventure. I looked at attending university as a perfect opportunity for growth, and I knew that if I went to a school far from home, I would be forced to challenge myself more than if I stayed close by where I’d be comfortable in the connections I already had.

I wanted to explore a new area, new friendships, and my own identity. I longed to experience a real snow, discover the culture of a different area, and explore the ins and outs of a new town. Moving far away would force me to put myself out there, grow through loneliness and discomfort, make new relationships, and build my own foundation.

Initially I began looking at schools primarily in the midwest because I knew the area relatively well from traveling to visit family. Being there felt like it would be a new opportunity for me. However, given that I knew some people who cared about me were relatively nearby, I would be able to keep some semblance of a safety net.

What I quickly learned after starting school at Michigan is that the people in this area are so welcoming and kind that everyone feels like family. When venturing away from home, it seemed important to find an environment filled with generosity and warmth in order to embrace me, and I found that to be true (thanks to the charm of midwesterners!).

Ellie in front of the School of Nursing sign

I discovered the University of Michigan while doing college research. Learning about the renowned alumni network, vast connections, and high academic rankings was eye-opening. But it wasn’t until I toured campus, witnessed the illustrious Diag, and talked with someone who attended U-M that I I felt like I had found my place. I knew if I was leaving the west coast and everything I knew behind, I wanted to go somewhere that had the potential to be my new home, and this was it.

Being far away from home wasn’t always easy, but I learned to deal with it. I often found myself missing my family, until I discovered the joy of receiving mail from them, along with of course the usual phone calls and facetimes. I missed the beautiful scenery of my home, so I tried to explore different parts of the state. I moved somewhere new knowing no one, so I worked hard to put myself out there and make new ones. I dealt with some growing pains, but the transition to living in Michigan was absolutely worth it.

My advice for anyone considering moving away from home for college is this: you are stronger than you think. It might be lonely at first, but you have everything you need inside of you, and given time, you will find your people. The first leap is the hardest, but it also brings about adventure and excitement that might not be gained by simply staying stagnant. Good luck (and Go Blue)!


Ellie Younger

Ellie Younger is a sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and plans to study Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience. Ellie volunteers with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) and is happy to have found her U-M community in the club Survivor Michigan, for which she is an HR executive. She loves hiking in her home state of Oregon, conversations about social justice, and good poetry.