When I was applying for college — a lifetime ago — I knew I wanted to be in a city in the Northeast. That requirement pretty much left Philadelphia, New York City and Boston as my only options. I found myself constantly drawn to Boston University in my seemingly endless college search. I was comparing every university to BU, and it always came out on top.
BU was somewhat uncharted territory for me. Very few students from my high school went to BU, with myself being the first in years to go. This meant I was pretty much entering a completely new and different environment, with almost no connection to my previous life.
This was a terrifying but exciting concept for the 17-year-old me applying for schools. I wanted a blank slate. What I didn’t realize was how hard a fresh start is.
My first semester was fall 2020, the first full semester ruined by COVID-19. I came into a new world shaped by strict, but important, restrictions on dining, events, classes and social opportunities. However, this was the only college experience I knew.
Every face I saw around me was new. I had no safety net, no one to fall back on. Once I waved goodbye to my parents as they drove away, I was alone in this new city, this new state.
I just tried to keep in mind that everyone around me was feeling something similar. We were all starting this new chapter of our lives, trying to figure out what we were doing and who we were. All I had to do was find people I liked and people who liked me. Easy, right?
I was always somebody who needed people around me. I like to think I am very introverted, but I also feel lonely easily. So, being in this new place was more challenging than I expected. Luckily, I became very close with my freshman year roommate and people who lived on the same floor.
I think back to that time and I do not miss the awkward phase of just meeting a whole crowd of people, trying to figure out names and interests and ways to connect. It’s a time of talking with a permanent smile and laughing at the right time, hoping to make lasting friendships with strangers.
It’s a time of confusion and connecting, but also excitement. Those people were some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Their stories and personalities were so engaging that I almost forgot that I was hours away from the only life I had ever known.
I learned a lot about myself during that time. Being alone, while uncomfortable at times, fosters a greater sense of yourself, since you’re forced to look inward. I figured out what I wanted and what I didn’t, as well as the kind of people I wanted to surround myself with.
It wasn’t easy. Adjusting to college was probably one of the hardest times in my life. Getting used to that feeling of being alone was a challenge, but in that process, I found a home here. BU went from a place of confusion and isolation to a place I looked forward to returning to after breaks.
While it’s far away from where I grew up and the people I grew up with, I found a family here. It was not easy and I would not want to go through it again, but, as with all growth, it was so worth it.