Home Away From Home

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So picture this: I’m from a small town in New Jersey. Where I live, there is an overwhelming amount of corn, farmland, horses, and peace and quiet. To get to the grocery store, I have to drive 25 minutes (20 if I go fast). I was comfortable with the long commute to school and work, and I became accustomed to how distant everything seemed from my house. The middle of nowhere is something you can get used to.

It’s not that bad, actually. I’ve learned to like the woods. There’s a mountain next to my house, and the air is crisp and clean, and there are animals everywhere: deer, rabbits, foxes, bears, etc. At home, my favorite time of year has always been autumn. I loved driving home and seeing the leaves on the trees changing. When I was younger, my friends and I would make leaf piles and our parents would warn us to check for tics. One of my favorite activities used to be hiking. I loved how naturally quiet and beautiful my home was…

But where I’m from is much different compared to where I currently am. I come from a small, secluded part of the planet overrun by nature and silence. For eighteen years I have called it home, until September 3rd when I moved into the completely opposite realm of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, only an hour and fifteen minutes away. My life, as soon as I moved here, immediately changed.

I never anticipated Rutgers being that different compared to what I was used to. I wasn’t leaving the state, so I didn’t feel nervous. In my mind, it was still New Jersey, and if I got really homesick, the drive home wasn’t that far. But it turns out New Brunswick is completely different than anything I’ve ever known, and I totally underestimated the change. Although it initially took a lot of getting used to, three weeks later I can say that I’m comfortable here.

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Making Rutgers my home started in my dorm room. Like any other freshman girl, I wanted to have the cutest room on my floor. Moving to the university with my best friend, we coordinated how we wanted our room to be. My mom helped me decorate my side when I moved in, and I helped my best friend decorate her side when she moved in. To any other upcoming freshman, I suggest you make your dorm room a place you feel comfortable in. Especially if you are leaving far from home—you’ll be spending enough time in this small space that you want it to feel cozy.

My favorite part of my dorm room is the pictures of my family and friends right over my bed. I definitely recommend bringing LOTS of photos. It’s nice to see a reminder of home once in a while, especially when you’re settling into a crazy, overwhelming atmosphere. It overall makes the place feel more like your own room, and less like a regular college dorm.

The next thing I had to really get used to was the Rutgers bussing system. Now, like any country girl, I always had glamorous big city dreams, and Rutgers was just enough to fulfill that for me. Public transportation is something I never used, unless it was the school bus. And let me tell you—the Rutgers bussing system is nothing like the school bus. At first, it seemed confusing and impossible to get the hang of, but if you download the Rutgers app, you’ll be fine. If you ever miss a bus, there’s usually another one not far behind so don’t get too stressed out; you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Just make sure you plan accordingly.

Another really different element that I had to get used to was walking everywhere! If I want coffee, I have to walk. If I want a fat sandwich, I have to walk. If I want dinner, I have to walk. If I have to go to class, I have to walk. Like I said, back at home I had to drive everywhere, and I was used to taking my car places. But here? I don’t have a vehicle. I have my two legs, and whenever I need to leave campus, a bus that everyone else shares. The first week my legs were sore, especially because I never took the elevator to my dorm. But once I got used to navigating my way around campus, I learned how to cut-down my travel time and am slowly figuring out short cuts. If you’re a nerd like me, I highly recommend tracking your steps on your phone—it’s really cool to see how many steps you average each day.

Lastly, I thought that the giant Rutgers community would be overwhelming, but it’s actually not that bad. I see familiar faces, and the people here are friendly so you won’t have any problems making friends. Joining such a giant school may seem intimidating, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I love how busy our campus always is—whether there’s music, people skateboarding, or an event going on. I love how everything is so full of life here. Living on College Avenue, it’s never quiet—it’s constantly lively.

Making Rutgers my home away from home was easier than I’d ever imagined it to be. Although the atmosphere is completely different, it’s easy to settle down, adjust, and meet people. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of these four years.