As a native Californian, Syracuse has provided me with many new experiences since I arrived in July. I was born and raised in Southern California where it is summer about 8 months out of the year.We have palm trees and cacti in our backyards, with snow caped mountains just 30 minutes away. I had never been in weather below 20 degrees before I visited Syracuse in April and I had to ask my roommates for help when buying winter gear. During this time, I have found that it can be calming to shovel snow and scrap ice off of car windows; I even enjoy it sometimes. Weather might seem like a silly concern, but it can be very difficult for some people to acclimate to when it is such a drastic change. I was concerned about the lack of sun Syracuse gets during the winter months and if it would have an effect on my attitude and behavior. Luckily, I have been surviving the snowy days and I try to enjoy the beautiful snow while I can! I love California and I hope to go back after graduation, but first I have to make it through the upcoming winter months.
The weather is not the only new experience for me this year. My undergraduate university was only 15 minutes away from my house, so in order to save my family and myself some money, I decided to commute to school all four years. There were challenging times being an off campus student, but looking back at it now, I wouldn’t change a thing. With that being said, this year has been the first time in my life where I have lived on my own. Not only was it the first time being on my own, I also decided I would move across the entire country! There were multiple times leading up to my move to Syracuse, and even during the first few months here, where I seriously questioned what in the world I was thinking. I love my family; I love hanging out with them and I enjoy our weekly gatherings. I wasn’t ready to leave the pets in my family or my new baby cousins that I already loved so much. I had to constantly remind myself that I’m so fortunate to even have this opportunity to get an amazing education and to learn from some of the brightest minds in the field of Public Administration. I couldn’t let my fear of being on my own get in the way of this.
Six months into the program and I am still not 100% used to being this far from my entire family. I text my mom and dad every day, my sister has been my “best friend” on Snapchat since the day I came back from winter break, and sometimes my family will FaceTime me just so I can see my dog! I haven’t let my busy schedule and different time zone completely get in the way of communicating with my family. Although this level of communication may seem a bit excessive, it has really helped me cope with moving so far away from home. In my experience, I have found that it is important to talk to your loved ones, but it is equally important to live in the moment and enjoy the short time we have at Maxwell and in Syracuse.
I would be lying if I said this transition was easy. Fortunately, I have two wonderful roommates that have made this experience better than I could have ever imagined. Not only did they help me survive economics and statistics, they have also helped create a home for me in Syracuse. When I first moved here, I called my house “the place I’m living for a year”; I refused to call it home because quite frankly, it did not feel like home. It wasn’t the home I grew up in for 17 years, it wasn’t my room with all my memories displayed on the shelves, and it wasn’t the bed that had a special blanket laid on top for my dog. When I went back to California for winter break, I found myself calling Syracuse my “other home”. This may seem like nothing, but it sure did mean a lot to me. The last six months have taught me that “home” is what you make it. Of course my real home will always be in Highland, California, but Syracuse has given me a special kind of home. I have friends that I adore here and a house that has its quirks but still gives me a sense of comfort every day after school. That house on Broad Street is more than just the place I’m living for a year; it is the place where many memories have been made and it will be a part of one of the most significant years of my life. Whether it is in the desert of California or the tundra of New York, it is important to remember that happiness doesn’t have just one address!