You can admit it, you are probably sick of me harping about how much I move. “Oh I’ve lived everywhere! You’ve done nothing and seen nothing I haven’t enjoyed to its fullest!” I don’t mean to portray myself as a conceited punk, but the truth of the matter is that I move a lot. I freely admit it. I can say where I’ve lived in one breath, and I usually say it just to scare whoever asked me where I’ve lived. But all of my moves have paled in comparison with the last one. I am not unique in this last move, because everyone seems to have made this move.
I moved to college.
One of my friends was worried about going to the Virginia Military Academy. Not sure he could make it, he wondered aloud often what he would do if he dropped out. He told me he had no other options and that no other college he wanted to attend had accepted him. VMI was it. His sentiment is spread among my friends and to me personally. What would I do if I didn’t go to college? Karen would have some choice words, and maybe she is right, college degrees aren’t necessary.
I showed up at college with my dad and my stuff, and wandered into another world. For the first time in my life I wasn’t the only new guy. There were 750 people who had never been to this place, never lived like this, wanted to make a fresh start.
It was amazing. It didn’t stop with orientation. I was living in a world of teenagers. My parents lived on the other side of the continent and none of my close friends were going to school in the same area. The year progressed, I did things I never dreamed I would, some good, some very bad. Classes are ever present, but living in this place causes far more learning than going to class.
I just registered for my next years classes. Another full load of academia is on its way, ready to beat me into submission with its assignments and moronic teachers. This semester has been long, with more than usual involvement in extracurricular activities, full 18 credits of classes, and pledging a fraternity.
But I can’t claim to have it hard. Some of my friends have had the most interesting semester they have ever had, whether that be good, bad, or neither. The minor demon of alcohol had its effects on several of us this semester. One friend’s one night stand that ended up hurting everyone involved, failed relationships, new relationships, it’s enough to still surprise me.
As each day goes on, we move farther from high school, farther from the now idyllic land of study halls and easy classes. When we were there we wanted out, and now some of us want back. I don’t want to go back to a life less complicated. When I entered college I made a decision. I could connect with this place, or I could remain disconnected as I have done before, and never truly feel I belonged.
I connected. Or so I think.
Living in so many places has made it sort of a tradition for me to remain the outsider, and rarely, if ever, do I get to call myself a local. Here in college everyone is an outsider, everyone is not from around here, and everyone had to start anew. This was it, this was my chance. For the first time in my life I wasn’t unique in the fact I was coming from far away. In the end I was actually the local.
If you are reading this you are probably a college student. Chances are you moved here from a healthy home that you lived in for a while, and this has been the largest move in your life. I want to tell you something, I want to tell you how amazing this is. I want to tell you how many people you can meet and be moved by. I want to tell you how rich life can be in this place, how full your day can be! I did more in the past week than in a month of high school.
Karen asked me what the value of a college degree is. College is the biggest learning experience I have ever had in my entire life. I changed cultures, social circles, crossed emotional barriers, and opened my mind. Try doing that at Wal-Mart.