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Going to College 8 Hours from Home was the Hardest Thing I've Ever Done, but also the Best Thing I've Ever Done

528 miles.
There are a handful of numbers that have some sort of significance in my life and that I have memorized. My home phone number, my families birthdates, my street address, my old membership number from the golf course, and the distance from my college town to my hometown.




If you're new to Northern Prepster (welcome!) let me give you the overview:
I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and grew up within a two-mile radius of all of my friends. The same friends I made in kindergarten are the same friends I walked across the stage with at graduation 13 years later. Now, I am a current sophomore at The University of South Carolina down in Columbia, South Carolina.

Not to throw some geography at you but Columbus, Ohio is here:
X
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and Columbia, South Carolina is here:                 X

Obviously, in real life, the distance is a little bit different than that but with the keys available to me on this keyboard, that's the best illustration I could come up with. 

My point is, I chose to attend a school far from the only place I've ever called home. 

I am a huge homebody. I grew up in a town where everyone knows everyone and I loved every minute of it (which is why I'm planning to return after graduation, but that's a story for another day). 

Before even beginning my college search, I knew I wanted to attend a big, SEC school and major in Elementary Education. These two requirements of mine greatly narrowed down my search and left me with a handful of options. I fell in love with schools down south and while I could picture myself at several schools down here, I always ended up telling myself "but it's so far from home."


If you would've asked senior-year Riley where she thought she would be attending school next year, she would have looked at you and said: "I love The University of South Carolina but it's so far from home, so I'll probably just end up going to OSU or Miami because they're in-state."

For the longest time, I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to go out-of-state for school for the sole reason of being too far from home. South Carolina had everything I was looking for: a great elementary education program, big SEC school, Greek Life, beautiful campus, and I could picture myself loving it there. The only thing holding me back was that it was 528 miles from my home, my family, and the last 18 years of my life. 

Fast forward to February of my senior year, only a few short months away from having to officially declare which school I would be attending upon graduation. At this point in time, I had been accepted to USC and my mom suggested that we go back down to Columbia and sit in on a class in the school of education, my desired program. So we packed up our bags and drove down to USC for two days.

We were able to sit in on an education class taught by a professor that I absolutely adored (& went on to take on of his classes this past semester!) and got the chance to meet up with and chat with a current student and listen to her talk about the university.

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The University of South Carolina is 8 hours and 11 minutes by car, 3 hours and 31 minutes by air, or 528 miles away from home. But after that day, I realized how much I loved USC and decided to take a leap of faith and declare that I would be attending in the fall. To this day, I have not looked back on that decision. Sure there were times when I really missed home, but being away from home 9 months out of the year now makes the time that I do get to spend at home even more special.

Two years ago I jumped into the unknown and because of that, I have grown immensely as an individual. Not only am I more independent, I'm also more confident in myself because I've had to basically make a home for myself in a city that was once foreign to me.

To any high school seniors out there who may be hesitant to attend a school away from home: go for it. I know it's scary, slightly terrifying if you will, but the benefits outweigh the costs 100 to 1. You can always move back home after graduation in just four short years, but for now, this is your chance to make someone place "your city."

I am now halfway through with my time at USC and I only wish my senior-year self could see how happy I am, because it would have made all of my fears and worries nonexistent. And to think, the place I am now is all because I decided to just go for it. 

xoxo,
Ri

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