I have always been a big believer in the idea that university is for exploration – of the planet, and of the mind. While it isn’t appealing for everyone, moving 2,000-plus miles to begin my college career granted me the adventure I desired. There is something to be said about leaving your home and everyone you know armed with the statement, “See you in four months” and a couple of suitcases weighing less than 50 pounds. I felt free to reinvent myself in my new zip code, free to start over, free to be truly independent.
I knew that moving would be challenging, but I greatly underestimated the immense discomfort that comes with such a lingering feeling of loneliness. I got through the blue days by constantly reminding myself what I would get out of this experience; new friends, professional opportunities, a wider world view, and a well-renowned education. It wasn’t comfortable, but I put myself in a difficult position in order to orchestrate the most growth.
I’ve been here since August, so I’ll admit there are some things I love about my new home and some I’m not sure I will ever accept. To me, it will always be soda not pop, sinsta not finsta, highway not expressway. I spent the first month amazed by the sheer magnitude of ranch dressing consumed by my peers, learning people’s homes by their location on a palm, and generally feeling like I was floating in between multiple destinations.
Desperate to plant new roots, it seemed that every place I spent a night at became a home. Seeking solace in every mention of Portland, I attached my identity to my origin in order to not forget where I came from. My bones ached for trees, my soul for mountains, my lungs for the sea, but gradually I adjusted, realizing the wonderful duality of my existence.
I am able to call all of these places my home without betrayal towards any location that built who I am today. I am learning about the world, and growing my own view in the most exciting way.
I discovered how best to plant my feet so not to slide in the ice, and I will never take for granted the days where the sun shines while it snows. I am surrounded by charming Midwesterners who offer to take me in at any holiday break, and I’m enjoying the benefits of East Coast time. All in all, I truly could not be more grateful that I ended up in this beautiful, snowy, mitten-shaped state.