Some of you may know that I help answer questions for prospective and accepted students. I get questions from "what's the food like" to "where's the party" (don't worry parents, I don't answer that one), but some of the most common are questions asking about the city and campus itself. Is it easy to make friends, what's the weather like, is it safe, will my professor learn my name and the list goes on.
And I answer each question honestly: You will make friends - just get out and say "hello." It is in fact freezing at least a solid third of the year, but you get used to it. I've never felt unsafe or at risk (even during the Umbrella Fiasco before we knew it was just an umbrella). My professors do in fact know my name and typically know me as the one who always has something to say (and pass that knowledge onto other professors so I have a rep even before I step into a class).
These questions, although structured differently, using different words and subjects, seem to all relate to the same concern - will this be like home?
And my honest answer is, no. No it won't.
But that is no reason to be scared or decide to go somewhere else. Some people (like my sister) are potentially thrilled at this notion - can't wait to explore and see somewhere new. For others (like me), this sounds terrifying. For some of you, Rochester is already home and for others, it will become home.
But for the moments when you first step on campus, it's going to be different and it's going to be scary but it will be exciting and exhilarating because here is something that isn't home, it isn't familiar. It takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to expand, not only your knowledge but everything else about you. From social skills to connections to just getting to experience a different city and the way they do things there.
And the thing most people don't always think of when going away somewhere new is how much you will grow to appreciate home and the opportunities you get to return to it. Maybe sleep in your childhood bedroom or play with the cute, furry puppy you left behind. Maybe even hang out with those siblings you actually really, really, really missed.
Suddenly you're grateful for all the things you took for granted growing up.You appreciate the traditions, the native dialect (people here still make fun of me for 'slippy,' 'jeet jet,' 'dahn tahn,' and 'pop') and even how people drive back home. Home becomes this awesome place you get to go and escape and relax. Old friends, old hangout spots and everything that made home, home are the best ways to restart and touch base with yourself again.
Then after being home for a little, you become grateful for your room at college or your apartment where you can slam the door as loud as you want and not get yelled at or can throw your laundry wherever you want (as long as it's on your side). And you get a chance to make new traditions and new, lifelong friends and connections.
And you enter this incredible circle of life that really only exists once you leave home. You're starting the beginning of your own life but still have that place you can run to if you need a minute to get away.
So when you get worried about if it's going to be too cold or you'll be the only one from your high school coming here (that was me), just remember, home will always be there. These opportunities here and now, won't always be.
So just do it. Go for it.
See you in the fall, #RIT2014
PS. Here's the inspiration behind this post. I am proud Pittsburgher. The Steel City will always be my home.
And as always, follow me here for more answers.