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Jul 26 2017
by Emily McKeon

Lifestyle Flip: Adjusting to College After Growing Up on the Shore

By Emily McKeon - Jul 26 2017
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There are some changes in life that one assumes will feel natural. We even look forward to them and mark them on our calendars. Then that inevitable day arrives when that natural feeling suddenly turns into a tugging to return home, a feeling akin to a mother turtle's instinct to return to her birthplace.

Growing up on the Jersey Shore, or any beach town on either beautiful coast of the United States, is special. Some of the lucky few who were raised in such a place stay and live their lives there. Others feel the itch to branch out and experience the differences in the world.

Here we will focus on the latter, or rather a branch of the latter: The group of young adults embarking on higher education away from the bubble of beach towns. Fresh U asked two young women, one who has a year away from the waves under her belt, and the other who is about to embark on her own journey, on their experiences and feelings.

The Somewhat-Seasoned Student: Angela, Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)

Attending college in a city as monumentally boundless as Philadelphia can seem like a dream come true to a kid who grew up with just boardwalks and the beach as entertainment. Although, as the years pass no one can deny that the waves are what make growing up on the shore to die for. Angela said that "what I loved most about growing up on the shore was the beaches. I love swimming and since I don't have a pool at home, the ocean was the next best thing."

The cities, and especially their universities, have their own uniqueness that attracts young adults like moths to a flame. Angela told Fresh U that "what made me choose Drexel was the program for game design, my major. It's one of the best in the country."

When that sudden tugging towards home starts to hit, the small things begin to matter. Angela said, "What I miss most about the shore is being around my family. Also things are cheaper here than they are in Philly."

The differences become glaringly obvious over time. While the traffic in most beach towns becomes insane during the summer and prime tourist times, the cities have traffic jams year-round like clockwork. Angela points out some of the bigger differences: "The biggest difference between here and Philly is that everything in Philly stays open much later than 9 p.m. It was kind of a shock to come back home and go out at night only to see no one on the streets."

The New Explorer: Kate, Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ)

This is a unique situation that some people from the shore tend to find themselves in: They want to branch out, but not too far. While Glassboro, New Jersey, is not necessarily a city, it has enough differences to warrant it the description of "not a beach town" and thus perfect for Jersey Shore students looking for a college that is close to a major city (Philadelphia), yet not too far from home. Kate said that she "loved having the beach access and its amenities growing up at the shore. Going to different beaches and boardwalks in the surrounding towns was a great way to cool off during the heat. Plus it helped to know little sweet spots that weren't always crowded."

For some students, choosing a college revolves around proximity to home as well as the environment. Choosing a college within an hour or two hour range from home can make the holiday breaks easier, especially when the trips home don't put a serious dent in the bank. Kate told Fresh U, "I chose my school because of its close proximity to home and because of the student body environment. All of the schools I applied to had great academic track records, but the way Rowan's professors and students presented themselves sealed the deal for me."

Being away from the so-called "bubble" that is the beach town can be a daunting idea. For many, this is the first time they are branching out and experiencing a world they have yet to explore. That can be hard. Kate said that "I'll miss my friends and family the most. They're all located on the shore but I know that on holidays and weekends here and there, we'll be able to come back to the shore we grew up on."

Here is where that unique situation comes in: When the city or town that the college is located in feels either too overwhelming or doesn't exactly compare to the shore. Kate touches on this perfectly: "The biggest difference when I go to school is the physical environment. Growing up on the shore there was always something to do or somewhere to go. I'm sure at Rowan there will be places to go, but Glassboro (and its surrounding area) is full of fields and is not as much of the hub that the shore is."

When you are born with sand in your hair and salt on your tongue, it can be difficult to escape the serenity of it. Sure, one can branch out and walk the streets of Philadelphia or Paris, but it seems that at one point or another in life it is inevitable that the current will push you back to the shores. Whether you stay or return to the concrete jungle is the real question.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Emily McKeon - Drexel University

Emily is a freshman at Drexel University majoring in English. At her high school, she was heavily involved with the performing arts and wrote for the literary magazine. Emily loves writing, exploring the city, or playing piano. Follow her on Twitter @mckeon_emily!

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