The first thing people ask me when I tell them I’m from San Diego is usually along the lines of “Why are you in Rochester?”
Though I’ll often joke around and say I wanted to experience some snow, attending a college across the country was no trivial decision. I made color-coded charts and did extensive research on every out-of-state school I applied to. Knowing details like the distance between the school and the airport and the amenities offered on campus made the unfamiliar setting feel less intimidating.
Still, moving approximately 2,051 miles away from everything and everyone I know was a scary prospect, and it certainly won’t be the right choice for everyone. But exploring new places and pushing myself out of my comfort zone was something I wanted in my college experience, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
San Diego will always be my home, but Rochester has proven itself to be a gem.
It’s no secret that I’ve fallen in love with the charming town of Pittsford. The suburban area surrounding Naz may seem quaint, but there are plenty of places to explore around town. The Erie Canal, for example, is just down the road from campus and the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, take a scenic walk or bike ride, and pet a few friendly dogs. Some of my other favorite destinations, such as Highland Park, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Eastview Mall, and Wegmans, are just a short drive away.
There’s also a distinct beauty that comes from the changing seasons. As much as I appreciate the sunny skies and warm air of California, there’s something about the crunch of dry leaves under my boots, the powdery texture of fresh snow, and the vibrant colors of sprouting tulips that just feels magical. And when homesickness does kick in, it’s those little things that remind me why I love living in upstate New York.
Going to out-of-state has made me to more comfortable with relying on myself and kinda eased me into the responsibilities of adulthood. When I chose Naz, I knew I’d be entering the uncharted territory of the east coast and leaving the immediate support of my friends and family in a different time zone. But I challenged myself to be more self-sufficient. I eat a healthy breakfast every morning. I make time to wash and fold my laundry. I manage my time and closely monitor how much money I spend. I schedule doctors appointments and navigate airports on my own. Starting with the little things, I learned how to take care of myself.
But becoming more independent also makes you appreciate what you already have.
Just because you can live on your own, doesn’t mean you don’t need your support group. Homesickness is universal, whether you attend a college in your hometown or you fly across the country. I call my parents as frequently as possible and my siblings put my dog on the camera when we FaceTime. Sometimes the time zones and the business of everyone’s own schedule makes it hard to keep touch with family and high school friends, but it’s not impossible and you’ll make new friends along the way.
Not gonna lie, going out-of-state can sometimes feel overwhelmingly terrifying and stressful. However, if you’re open to exploring new places, meeting new people, and taking on new responsibilities, taking the leap into the unknown will be worth the risk.