As an out of state college student in my second month of college, I can attest to the fact that even tuition is not the hardest part about being away for college. The culture, style, type of living and especially the scenery are what stand out to me the most about venturing away from my home state of Louisiana. Everyone expects personal change and growth as they cross the threshold of childhood to “adulthood" – though I refuse to identify as an “adult” – but pursuing an out of state education makes this change a little bit harsher and a whole lot bumpier. Here are some things that out of state students miss while at college.
1. Knowing how to get around without GPS.
Perhaps this is just me, but back home I could drive around my hometown blindfolded, so it is a little bit of a blow to my ego when I have to whip out Google Maps just to go to Target. My favorite and least favorite thing to do is neglect my GPS and try to get where I’m going without any help, which usually concludes in an unnecessarily long trip around the entire city of Fayetteville. All I have to say about that is that mistakes prove you are trying.
2. Running into people you know everywhere.
I used to despise the fact that even if I went to the store at midnight, there would no doubt be someone who I at least recognized. I now sometimes pray for a familiar face on my biweekly run to Walmart to replace my severe cold and flu medicine supply. Conversely, I don’t have to worry about how I look during most of my off-campus ventures, so maybe this one has its pros and cons.
3. Being familiar with sports teams and their fans.
Just yesterday I had to google our football coach’s name. That about sums up the problem here and also the fact that only about 2% of my closet is an acceptable color to wear to football games. Not that I was particularly interested in all the sports teams back home, but sometimes you can’t help what you just happen to know by living in a certain place.
4. Being a short drive from home.
My home is just far enough away to not be too convenient. While it’s less than a plane ride, it’s definitely farther than the farthest in-state school I could have gone to. I’ve made several friends whose homes are literally 30 minutes away from campus and even they don’t go home as often as one might assume.
5. Knowing all the good restaurants.
Ironically, I’m from Louisiana and I’ve eaten Cane’s chicken in Arkansas more than I have ever eaten it back home. I’m not complaining, but it takes some time to find all the hidden gems in a new town’s food scene. I could probably take any given person on a food tour of my hometown and other cities in close proximity, but a new slate has been given to me since moving to college. Hopefully this is subject to change within a few months.
6. The culture of home.
It’s both odd and fascinating that even neighboring states have a unique culture. I chose a college where people are outdoorsy, coffee is a relatively big deal and local consumerism is popular. While I would not consider myself particularly outdoorsy, I adore the other aspects of my college town, which is an important factor in choosing a university. While you might think you’ll be spending almost all your time on campus, there is definitely ample time to explore your new home and all its quirks if you truly want to. My hometown versus my new home are definitely different in several ways, but it’s nice to be in an area of your choice that may suit your personality or interests better.
7. Knowing state stereotypes.
Being from Louisiana, one tends to have an understanding about the types of people who come from certain regions of the state. With that being said, all the Arkansas natives know this about their state as well, and I still stand as an outsider looking in regarding this aspect. I’ve come to learn that most people from Arkansas tend to say they're from a certain town, then follow it by saying “It has like six people, you’ve never heard of it." Ah, you’re right.
8. People understanding where you’re from.
When asked where I am from, I tend to just say Louisiana because it’s not like tons of people from different parts of Louisiana go to my school. They reply with “Wow, that must be such a long drive." Well, considering my back yard isn’t quite the Gulf of Mexico, the drive is shorter than yours, Mr. Houston, Texas. I don’t actually say that, but maybe someday I will. I normally just tell them I have pet alligators instead, because why not?
Going out of state for college is both a blessing and a curse. I would never trade my opportunity for anything, but every new venture comes with exposure to new and unknown things. For all you out of state students, I do hope you can relate to this and really anyone who is simply away from home no matter where they are. If anything, going out of state for school makes you appreciate your home that much more and makes you realize that you are blessed to be able to go home to a more familiar place.
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