About six years ago, I decided that I wanted to go to college 292.7 miles away in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. I had convinced my parents to take me up there for a tour. We drove the 5 hour drive up there, although it was about 8 with Dad navigating. I am pretty sure my parents thought it would be the first and last time we’d be making it. But, we loved it. It had one of the best education programs in Wisconsin. We loved it’s smallness and the community. After our tour, we drove around and explored the town. My parents couldn’t find a single bad neighborhood in those few hours. Plus after all of my mom’s research and finding it was one of the top 10 places to retire to, she declared that she approved. My dad loved that it was on a river and that Fleet and Farm was right next to their hotel (This seriously is one of the reasons that he comes and visits.) And I loved all of it. I felt like I fit there.
About five years ago, while all of my friends were applying to ISU, UNI, Iowa, Wartburg, ect., I submitted my application to UW-Stevens Point. When the acceptance letter came, my parents eagerly waited for me to get home to open it. We were all excited. My brothers were already fighting over who would get my room when I moved. No one tried to talk me out of it. My parents thought it would be good for me. In the words of my mother, “It will give me a chance to spread my wings.” She told everyone that. My friends and I were in our senior year, we were excited for our new adventures to realize that Stevens Point, Wisconsin would steal me away. I take that back, one person tried to talk me out of it. For two years. Lisa wanted me to move into her basement, watch the boys during the day, and go to the local tech school at night. It wasn’t a serious plan, she just didn’t want to lose the babysitter!
About four years ago, we were just returning back to normalcy. We had just moved back into our refinished house after the fire. I moved in my much smaller room, but most of my stuff remained packed. Josh and I had been dating for six months and were still trying to figure out how we were going to visit each other when we’d be five hours apart. Mom and I went and got everything I might need for dorm living. Including a thermometer, so that when I called my mom and told her I was sick, I could give her my exact temperature so that she could determine what I should do. She thinks of everythin! I was ready for school.
Four years ago, we crammed all of my belongings in my tiny car and the van. That first drive up to Point was terrifying. It was raining and it was my first time driving through Madsion. On the Beltline. Josh ended up calling my dad and telling him to slow down so I wouldn’t have a complete panic attack. The next morning, we moved everything into my dorm room. Josh and Noah went back to the hotel so Noah could swim and mom, dad, and I went shopping for anything we still needed. When we got back, I met my roommate and I knew my life was going to suck from that moment. But I told no one and lived on with my life. As my parents left, I panicked and cried. I realized that I didn’t know a single soul. I had no friends here and the only people I knew had just left to go back to Iowa. I then hid in the study lounge until I could calm myself enough to return to my room. I followed this ritual daily for the most of the semester.
That first roommate almost ruined my college experience. She was horrid. I wanted college to be great and it started awful. For the first two weeks I ate by myself and devoted my life to studying. That is until a sophomore across the hall realized that my life was a living hell and marched me and three other girls to an ice cream shop. Two of those girls ended up “saving” me. I finally had friends and started living a less hellish life. Don’t get me wrong, my roommate was still horrible, but I was finally having fun. In October, I decided that I was going to try to transfer out at semester and go to UNI. I never told anyone that was my plan. I just decided that I was done. But, I was too scared to actually go through with it. At semester, a miracle happened. My terrifying evil roommate moved out and a weirder one replaced her. Things got better, but I still had a lot of anxiety.
Looking back, I probably should have gone to the school psych. My English professor had suggested a few times. She adored me because I was also from Iowa and loved pulled pork and Iowa chops as much as her. I never slept, so I had huge blackish/purple rings under my eyes. The food at the dining center made me sick because never in my life had I eaten that much boxed food, so I lost a ton of weight. Instead of gaining my “Freshman 15”, I lost it. And I was depressed.
But I didn’t tell you this story to make you feel sorry for me. I wrote it to tell you that if you have a horrendous first year, it can get better. I wanted to leave and go back home, but I talked myself out of it. I had started making friends, loved my professors, and was starting to have fun. I was extremely homesick but every time Josh would visit, it got better. Plus he’d bring me food from my mom and I could finally eat! I learned so much about myself in those 9 months. Like when I perfected making noodles in the microwave-but not Easy Mac. I almost melted the microwave when I made that. I can cook, I just can’t make Easy Mac… As my mother had hoped, I spread my wings. I liked my life in Wisconsin and was excited to return in the fall.
Four years after that first move in, so much has changed. Starting with myself. I am a much stronger person than what I was my freshman year. I am much more likely to stand up for myself and speak my mind. I didn’t lose myself, I just built myself up. I am still quirky and creative. Who would have thought that the kid who hadn’t spent more than an week away from her parents would have willingly moved five hours away from them! Today is my first day of my final semester of college. I am finally student teaching and hopefully soon will have my own classroom. I graduate in December after four and a half long years. I am getting married in June to my best friend who followed my up here and endured every stress induced meltdown (And called my mom when he didn’t know how to help). We got a puppy and are now struggling with the decision to leave Point to be closer to our parents or to stay here because we have grown to love it. But I can’t help but think how different this all would be if I hadn’t spread my wings and moved to Stevens Point. While I didn’t go out and party (Even though my mom just recently revealed she wished I would just go let loose just once.), I enjoyed my college experience beyond words. I wouldn’t change it for the world, even the terrifying, evil roommate.