A year ago, I made a crazy decision to leave my hometown and move to a place I’d only visited once to go to school. I am constantly asked why would I even think of choosing to go to the University of Michigan when I grew up in Louisiana. I have yet to have a good answer to that question. At first, I would try to make up some logical explanation for my decision. Now, after completing an entire year as a student in Ann Arbor, I still don’t have a reason for my decision, but I do have so much proof as to why it was the best decision I have ever made.
It’s been a long year, but so much has happened in that year that it’s felt like it’s been ten. I remember my first day at Michigan, after my parents dropped me off at my dorm and left…I was terrified. I didn’t know anything about this city. I did not know a single person in this city. The only people I “knew” were my two roommates who weren’t moving in for another three days. Those three days were horrible. I barely left my room. I watched a lot of Netflix and cried a lot. I ate a lot of Ramen to avoid having to try to find my way to West Quad. (Boy, did I not realize how well I would know how to get to West Quad later). Finally, my roommates moved in, and all of that worry quickly started to dissolve away.
Those first few months were hard. We were all incredibly homesick. I just wanted to talk to someone about something familiar. It is absolutely the strangest and unexplainable feeling to be somewhere with people who didn’t know anything about your past or where you came from. It is so crazy to be somewhere where there is no one familiar anywhere. Despite the homesickness, I had started making new friends, and I loved it. These people were definitely different than everyone back home, but I loved that. It was so cool learning about different parts of the country (and even the world). The rest of the year was crazy, all because I was putting myself out there and trying things that I wouldn’t have tried if I were at a school back home.
This year was insane. I started my own chapter of a non-profit on campus with girls who I now consider my closest friends. I joined a different non-profit to become a camp counselor for kids who had gone through the same crappy stuff I had gone through. I took a bus to Chicago with my roommate to see a show and get lost downtown because screw public transportation. I sang karaoke at the top of my lungs until one in the morning at a sketchy karaoke place in downtown Ann Arbor with some of my closest friends. I traveled all over the Midwest and all the way down to South Carolina for tournaments with a sports team made up of people that I consider my second family and who I would give anything for.
I can remember at the beginning of my journey as a Wolverine, I heard other out-of-state students telling me, “You’re going to be homesick now, but wait until the end of the year – you’re never going to want to go home.” I didn’t believe them. I missed my friends and my family and my dog and I could not imagine feeling like staying in Michigan instead of going home. Man, was I wrong. The last three weeks were consumed of the overwhelming sadness that in such a short time, I would be going back to North Carolina for three months and that that was very far from all of my friends. I started to realize that for three months, I wasn’t going to wake up in the same room as two of my best friends or fall asleep after giggling over Tumblr posts or YouTube videos with them until three in the morning. For the next three months, I didn’t have Quidditch practice or parties to look forward to (Who am I kidding? I never went to practice). For three months, I was going to have to work on Friday nights instead of eat pizza and watch Doctor Who with two girls who understand me better than anyone else.
But after being sad because of all of this, I realized that it was going to feel so good to come back to Ann Arbor in August. So, to end all things like they should be ended…with a Harry Potter reference:
“It feels strange to be going home, doesn’t it?”
“I’m not going home. Not really.”
So, until August, Ann Arbor and everyone in it. I’ll be counting down the days until I am hoMe.