Updated: Nov 15, 2020
PHHS ’19, University of Florida ‘23
I’ve always considered myself to be an independent person, so I was excited to be on my own in college and didn’t care how far I ended up. I figured what better time to leave than now! I mean, we all have to leave the nest at some point. So Sixteen-year-old me happily applied to colleges outside of NJ in states like Texas, Massachusetts and (my personal favorite) Florida. Turns out, Florida loved me as well and I ended up 1,011 miles away from home at the University of Florida.
Going to college far from home has its perks, but it also has its downfalls. It’s only fair if I share some of both with you now.
1. The Goodbyes
The day I got accepted into UF, I felt like I was on cloud nine and I rode that feeling until early August. Summer ’19 was THE summer. Days blended into one another and before I knew it, it was time for me to head down since UF starts in the middle of August. I set aside days for my goodbyes and each day was filled with tears.
Skipping ahead to move in day, this was definitely the hardest part of deciding to leave home. Once my parents and little brother had finished moving me into my room and we had our last dinner together, I had to walk them down to say goodbye. There’s just something about parents crying that hits differently. I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t wished I just stayed in Jersey during this goodbye. We stayed down by the car for forever, no one wanted to leave. Eventually, I sent them on their way and went back up to my new room.
Listen, this was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I am extremely glad I did it. The goodbyes aren’t the best, but it makes you stronger. If you’ve opted to go far for college, make the best memories you can before you leave- they’ll be comforting I promise.
2. Missing Home
Feeling homesick is real even if your old home is a town like Parsippany. Trust me, I know Parsippany does not have much, but you’ll miss it. Someone will mention late nights with friends and you’ll think of nights at Fuddruckers. Someone will mention a funny high school moment and you’ll have a million PHHS memories. For the first few weeks, you’ll be missing little Parsippany and it will make you appreciate it the next time you’re back home.
3. The Cost
This was a big one for me. Out of state tuition had me second guessing my decision for most of my Fall semester. Truth is that as long as you make the best of your college experience it becomes worth it. There are so many clubs, intramural sports and organizations that colleges offer. There is truly something out there for everyone! You have to stay confident in your decision of a college. I had to remind myself of why I chose UF- the academics are in the top 10 of the nation and it’s THE best university in Florida. Each college has something to boast about, find it and remember it.
1. Strengthening Bonds with People Back Home
If going to college 1,011 miles away taught me one thing, it’s that you will actually learn who your closet friends are. Sure, people are always a call or text away, but it becomes evident who you want to talk to all the time. If you knew me in high school, you knew my friend group quite well. Thankfully, nothing changed! Each of us talked daily and it was like I was still in Jersey with them. They became my support system and I was theirs. It became clear that distance really means nothing if the bond is strong enough.
In terms of talking to my parents and brother, communication was at an all-time high. My little brother and I had scheduled FaceTime Calls every Sunday night. My parents on the other hand wished to hear my voice every morning. Even if you stay close to home, please expect random calls often and texts during the day. It might come off as annoying as first, but you’ll learn to love it. These calls are ways you can feel like you never left home.
2. Fresh Starts and New Memories
This is what college is all about! It is the perfect time to find out who you are and to make meaningful connections and memories along the way. You are most likely going to be the only one from your hometown there, so it’s up to you to start your new path! If there’s ever a time to rebrand yourself, it’s college. Everyone is adjusting to their new lifestyles. All schools have events that foster bonding between students. There are going to be times where you’ll feel out of place but use that to your advantage. Try to make a friend or two and watch your friend group grow! It’s easy to make friends in college, you just might have to step out of your comfort zone. Just move at your own pace. Like I said before, each college has something to offer- just immerse yourself in it!
3. Newly Found Independence
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of independence college brings. Being far from home truly made me feel like I was my own adult (even though I was still 17). I was the only one who would hold myself accountable for the decisions I made. I became responsible for smaller tasks that I used to push aside to my parents. I had to learn how to put myself on a budget since it became a lot easier to go out with friends and to order pizza whenever. I also had to become more aware of my surroundings and in turn, this helped me become aware of the town that will be my home for the next four years.
All in all, going away for college is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. It brought me some of the best memories I have. The opportunities I have been given are endless and will prove to be beneficial later in life. This decision has given me the chance to grow as a person in several aspects. It definitely is not the easiest way to enter the real world, but it pushes you in ways you do not expect. If given the opportunity, I’d say you should go to college far from home.