by Fredlyn Pierre Louis
Students go to college out-of-state for multiple reasons. I did it because I have big dreams that require living near a big city like Chicago. I came to North Central College last fall from Florida, and after successfully completing my first semester, I feel confident in describing a few experiences of an out-of-state student:
- What is home: When I went home over winter break, it felt like everyone and everything had changed, and I found myself questioning my interests. Most students are probably happy when they go back home, but I really missed my college life. I was so glad to see my family, but I really didn’t want to stay inside for a whole month watching Netflix.
- Thanksgiving hurts: The price of a plane ticket makes it challenging to go home over Thanksgiving break. It wasn’t worth it to buy a round-trip ticket for just a few days away, especially when the semester was going to end a few weeks later, and we’d go on winter break. Although my family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, it still hurts not to get to see them. The worst part of it all was the loneliness and isolation when other students went home. Luckily for me, though, North Central College hosted a great Thanksgiving dinner for students who stayed on campus during the break. I also had some friends who stayed with me, so this year, I survived Thanksgiving!
- Friends are the new temporary family: There’s something about college that pulls friends closer, especially for out-of-state students like me. We can’t go home over the weekends, so our friends are our temporary family until we can go back home for the longer school breaks.
- Getting a new wardrobe: For students leaving a state like Florida for another state with warm climate, it might be okay to wear the same clothes. However, for a student like me, going from Florida to Illinois means going from a warm climate to a completely different one, and my wardrobe didn’t correspond to the cold weather. Winter coats aren’t my favorite; I really think puffy jackets are ugly, but I have to wear them anyway because I have to live!
- It’s more expensive: In general, college is costly, but for out-of-state students, it tends to cost even more. For instance, when students don’t leave campus for breaks, they have to think about stocking up on food because the dining hall is closed. When you do want to go home, you have to figure out how you’re going to get there, and the price varies on how far you live.
Despite the challenges of attending an out-of-state college, I think you should embrace the struggles of being 100% independent for the first time! You left home for a reason, so don’t let the hardships that come with fulfilling your dreams stop you. I would tell you to experience all the new things, like new culture, climate, wardrobe, friends, city, and more! Discover new things about yourself that you may not have ever known (it turns out I’m an incredible dancer!). In the end, the distance makes you a stronger, more amazing person, and you’ll have a story to tell.