West Coast vs. East Coast: Perspectives from an East Coast First-Year

I have never lived in a city and my high school graduating class size was forty-three. Instead of a “concrete jungle”, we have cows, trees, fields and more fields. And occasionally some civilization. It is a completely different lifestyle than what most people are used to. For instance, driving a half-hour to get to a grocery store or a restaurant is completely normal, and living in a dorm is the first time neighbors have been less than five acres away.

How am I not driven mad by isolation? The peacefulness of being able to see for miles. Looking up at the night sky and seeing millions of stars and the Milky Way Galaxy on a clear night. Smelling fresh-cut grass and hearing birds chirp, drowning out the industrialized nature of modern transportation. During your time here at Colgate, take a moment to notice the beauty of the world surrounding you, and you may not feel as alone.

Growing up in rural Central New York comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, learning to adapt to every weather scenario is a must. Here, Mother Nature cannot make up her mind. There has been both snow and seventy degree weather in the same week. Needless to say, I packed way too much clothing, because you never really know what to expect.

Everybody knows your name in a small town. They also know your family and the awkward incident at the family reunion thirty-five years ago. Secondary school teachers know more about your personal life than you do, and you know everyone in the grocery store. This can be comforting because if something great or awful happens in your life, people know about it and will likely support you. However, gossip also spreads faster than wildfire, so do not believe everything you hear. A lot of your reputation relies on how others view you in a small town, which actually leads to a lot of independence. Learning to become your own person is so important, because everyone will have an opinion of you. But, what you think of yourself and how you present yourself is what really matters. Knowing this will lead you far in this world, no matter how large of a place you end up.

I am often asked what it is like going to university less than an hour away from the place I grew up. It is actually pretty comforting. I can go home to do laundry and get a hug from my dogs (and see my parents, obviously)! In comparison to the world I am used to, Colgate’s campus is much like a small city. Not to mention Hamilton’s population doubles in size when students come back from their summer vacations. I have a unique perspective compared to a typical first-year here, because I was fortunate enough to actually take courses here in high school. Colgate had become my second home, as I made friends with current students and got to know the faculty, spent late nights in Case library and enjoyed meals at Frank.

I did not think moving here would be too different from what I had already experienced. Boy, was I wrong. I am not going to lie, transitioning from a class of forty-three to a class of seven hundred eighty nine is quite a shock. I am so used to seeing the same people everyday for the past decade, so meeting those from all over the world with so many different experiences is so exciting! The entire feeling is different. I never really felt like I belonged anywhere before, but Colgate truly feels like home.