As a native of southern California, I had hesitated to venture out to the mid-west to attend a school in Michigan, named Hillsdale. Some of my concerns had included being far from my family and only being able to visit once or twice a year, the cold weather, not knowing anyone in the area, and just not being familiar with my surroundings. These issues concern many other people who think about studying out-of-state and abroad as well. However, studying out-of-state has offered me an opportunity to travel to a different part of the nation and experience a different way of living while still getting the same college degree had I stayed in California. Thus, I looked past my concerns and decided to travel to another part of the country while still getting the needed college degree.
In the first semester, I found that it was really important to familiarize myself with the campus and the people at my school. A level of familiarity would help with feeling at home in this new place. During my first semester at Hillsdale, I familiarized myself with Michigan and the school. The concerns of not knowing anybody or the area soon faded as I met many new people. I soon got along with my roommate and some of the other freshmen on my basketball team. I met many nice people through one of my teammates, and about a month into school, I developed a close group of friends. This friend group helped me feel comfortable in a completely different state. I became so close to them that they became my second family.
I discovered that the solution to the issue of homesickness is to keep in contact with my family through Skype, sending letters, and phone calls. During my first semester at school, I busied myself with meeting new people and learning in my classes that I did not have too much free time. Once the excitement of living in a new place faded during the spring semester, it became more important to keep in contact with my family. For some other students, however, the opposite pattern occurs; people are more homesick during the first semester, and less homesick because they become more familiar with their surroundings during the second semester. Keeping in contact with people’s families, in both situations, is the key to not being as homesick.
My concern over the weather faded as well. When fall turned the color of the leaves from light greens, to vibrant yellows, bright oranges, and deep reds, it felt like I was living in a magical place. The leaves constantly fell in the fall, and walking to class in the fall was extremely peaceful because it was so beautiful outside. The crisp, cold air outside added to the effect of creating a different experience because I had never experienced a fall below 60 degrees. The cold weather added to broadening my experience and spreading my limits-forcing me to become comfortable with colder weather. After being cold on the first colder day, my body started to readjust to the colder weather. Then, winter struck Michigan. The first snow was beautiful; everything was covered by a blanket of soft, white, pure, snow. It was really nice to experience snow as a part of regular daily life.
For those who are hesitant about going to out-of-state schools based on the following concerns, I highly recommend taking the chance and trying something new. I am greatly pleased with my decision to explore another state.
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.