Moving cross-country isn’t really as terrible as it initially seems. Yes, for some it could mean spending hundreds on shipping to make sure they get everything, but for others, it means squeezing what you can into a suitcase (which, honestly, is pretty cathartic) and moving on.
It also means starting over.
One of the arguably greatest perks of college is being able to reinvent yourself or spend a little time soul-searching and figuring out who you really are. Granted, this is applicable to most students, not just those who come in from thousands of miles away, but there’s a certain beauty to leaving one version of yourself vibin’ in the land of Hollywood and sunshine, and creating another to explore the nooks and crannies of a city as endless as its skyline.
When I moved to Philadelphia from California, I have to say it was a bit unusual. I kept asking for slushies and being told it was water-ice; I awkwardly stared at the first person to use “jawn” in a conversation with me; and quickly became a coffee addict, impatiently rushing to class and weaving through the crowd like a pro.
I adjusted to the fast-paced environment pretty easily, but it was the independence that got me. It was the little things: doing my laundry, organizing my desk, splitting chores, realizing that for once in 18 years, I’d have to share.
Even though I was forced into this independence, it taught me a lot about autonomy — more so than my close-to-home counterparts who have the ability to go home whenever they wish. If they’re in the need of groceries, or want to swap their wardrobes, or even if they just are feeling homesick, they can get home without flying 2,000 miles. Whenever I need something, I must seek it out myself through intricate plans using the subway and multiple Ubers. I don’t get to hop on a train and surprise my friends on their birthday, nor do I get to spontaneously decide to visit my parents on a whim.
After all that, I didn’t ever consider going back to California, as glammed up as it is, because in Philadelphia, I’m becoming the person I always dreamed I would be. The appeal of tanned surfers and celebrity sightings is a bit overrated; I’d much rather be the quirky girl breathlessly hailing a cab, coffee in one hand, cluttered bag in the other.
Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot since coming to Philly. I used to think I was involved and doing what I could as a millennial, but that was nothing compared to the activist I’ve become now. Everything from protests to women’s marches, consider me there. I no longer sit idly by and watch history happen; I become it. My biggest worry isn’t making sure my outfits are up to date, but rather, making sure I’m warm enough to patiently await the arrival of Hillary Clinton and President (yes, president) Obama outside of Independence Hall.
I’ve learned to be cautious and self-aware, often catching myself mindlessly wandering in some unknown corner of the city in the dark. I don’t take things for granted like I used to; I fully appreciate the value of a freshly cooked meal and a stocked fridge. It does get difficult at times, since I don’t get to visit home whenever I’m feeling the least bit homesick, and the best I can get is a FaceTime call.
Nonetheless, I think I can safely say this version of me, this chocolate-croissant loving, hat-hating, “oh-my-gosh-it-snowed!” version of me is the best there is.
I love beaches and palm trees as much as the next girl, but somehow the allure of a twinkling skyline is much greater to me. And as I lay on my stomach on my twin-XL bed and look over the city, I know it’s mine, with absolutely no regrets.