There and Back Again: Massachusetts to the Mason-Dixon Line

If I can help to normalize this idea of “abnormal” college experiences, of transferring, of taking time off, of figuring it out, then so be it. I’m happy to do so. What worries me is not the idea of failing, but rather the idea of complacency in our fellow, young, 20-year-old peers. This may be the only period of time in our lives that we are able to just up and run, to leave without fear of serious consequence, to go figure out who we want to be and where we want to be it. One day we are going to know our immediate future—our careers, our kids, our spouse(s). Use this time wholeheartedly and, well, a bit recklessly.

BC is an incredible institution, truly. Similar to many of y’all, however, the Heights was not my first choice straight out of high school. And to no surprise, I grew restless as the months rolled by. I, like many of you, held high hopes and expected to have the world as my oyster when shipping up to Boston. I expected maybe two hours of class a day instead of the three classes, two recitations, and four-hour lab my days turned out to be. Finals clubs and brown rice Alaskan maki-maki were seemingly replaced with less-than-posh Newton pregames and slightly less-than-edible grilled chicken from Stuart.

So while my best friends from home were pontooning on the Chattanooga River and fratting it up on the Gulf Shore, I decided to re-apply to my “dream university.” And, sure enough, I wasn’t rejected. Being so terribly indecisive, however, I was now caught between taking the chance of transferring or staying on a campus that had grown comfortable. As petty and pre-med as it may sound, it ultimately came down to academic prestige and the university I thought would most positively impact my med school application. Medically speaking, BC was the lesser option.

Consequently, however, I found myself even farther from where I wished to be as a person, beyond simply a pre-med student. Lacking the school spirit, the big city, the undermining emphasis on service, and—though many may argue—the lower-stress environment of the Heights, I grew homesick for BC. Surprisingly enough, my year abroad in the South was nothing like I imagined it would be. Although the first few months radiated an exciting sense of unknown, I found that all those petty aspects that drove me away from BC were amplified there. Maybe transferring was the right decision—who knows—but I certainly choose the wrong place to go. Thus, as my sophomore year progressed, the emptiness of the Heights began to set in, and my youthful restlessness began to chip away, realizing the grass was not always greener.

So here it goes: College might not be the path you envisioned, nor the easiest, nor the one that brings the most immediate joy. But hey, it’s not supposed to be.

Yes, I am here to tell all you underclassmen that BC isn’t so god-forsaken after all. I am also here, however, to tell you that there is a certain pride that comes with taking chances to figure out what it is you’re looking for, even if that means going it alone, and especially when the journey is not easy. You may never up and run on the scale that I did, but at some point in your college career, I urge you to choose to do so. Yes, transferring is a hassle to say the very least, but we’re so young. While we’re 21 years old (or so our IDs say), the last thing on our minds should be the fear of taking chances.

With the consistency set by our mundane, daily routines of core classes and O’Neill study sessions, it’s so easy to grow ignorant of the freedom we have during college. We must not forget to work our way out of these paths, some pre-determined by our parents, some pre-planned by our advisers, and some pre-preparing us for futures we aren’t certain of in the first place. But by throwing ourselves into uncomfortable situations and feeling so hopelessly lost, we force ourselves to figure it out—to figure something out. Although my time abroad in the southern United States wasn’t what I had envisioned, I learned so much about myself from the process, and for that I am tremendously grateful.

Now, I’m not suggesting you necessarily transfer (or transfer back) if you are unhappy, transferring (or transferring back) certainly isn’t the means to all ends. But rather, be spontaneous within Boston: go abroad in a non-BC program, take a gap year to travel or a semester off for an internship, go somewhere, do something. We’re going to have to pick our battles later on in life, so let’s use this time to gauge which ones are worth the fight in the first place. Please don’t let the idea of having the typical, traditional college experience sway your decision or your pride, because for this brief period in our lives, it’s just as easy to remain stagnant as it is to figure it out.

Featured Image by Abby Paulson / Heights Editor

Maddie Phelps

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