Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Three years ago, I moved for the first time in my life. This move wasn’t down the street, or to a new nearby California city. I moved across the country, from Laguna Beach, California to Ithaca, New York. Having grown up in Southern California, I was used to spending nearly every weekend at the beach with friends and was spoiled with year-round sunshine. Moving to New York for college was not only exciting, but also incredibly scary. Almost every time I mentioned that I was going to Cornell University, I was immediately peppered with questions “Are you prepared for the cold weather?” “Are you prepared for the cold people?” Though I had absolutely no idea what it meant to be “prepared,” and couldn’t decide if I was more scared about the new climate or about the new people, I got used to timidly answering, “I think so?...’”
After a week full of tearful goodbyes and a tornado-like attempt to put everything I owned into a suitcase and a duffel, I boarded a plane that would take me to the other side of the country. And, a within a week, I realized, much to my surprise, that I was, in fact, prepared for the new people. As terrifying as it initially was, I spent an inordinate amount of time during my first days of Orientation Week approaching other confused, afraid looking freshmen and asking them where they were from. I learned that many had made a very similar move to mine, many were from towns I knew nothing about, and that most were more than happy to make a new friend. Wherever you are heading for college, whether it be down the street, across the country, or across the world, I can promise you that you will never regret greeting a stranger with a smile, and that, in doing so, you might even find a lifelong friend.
About a month later, come November, I realized that I was completely unprepared for the weather. The cold was shocking and bitter. It turned out that the sweatshirts that had kept me warm and cozy during so many Southern California nights were laughable in the face of Ithaca’s rain and hail. And, the pair of rain-boots that had gotten me through a handful of California showers, slipped from under me each time I stepped out into the slushy Ithaca snow. The chalk-white sky wasn’t alone in laughing at me—all of my friends from the East Coast joined in. They soon helped me buy an appropriate parka (which, at the time, I thought looked bulky and ridiculous, but I now cherish deeply), sturdy snow boots, scarves, and gloves. Once I was dressed for the cold, I was finally able to appreciate its beauty. The changing of the leaves from bright green to dark reds and oranges in the autumn is now my favorite time of year, and I love the adrenaline I feel as the cold takes my breath away in the winter.
Admittedly, during the fall and winter months I sometimes find myself missing the California sunshine. This is normal. If you move somewhere cold for college, find other West Coast friends who will be in the same boat as you. It’s okay to miss the beach and the sun, but do your best to embrace the seasons. Build a snowman! Go sledding! Have a snowball fight! Experiencing seasons will open your eyes to a whole world that you might not yet even realizes exists. Regardless of where you go, be prepared to keep a positive mind and to embrace change. Leaving behind familiarity can be terrifying, but there is no better way to grow.
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