Last New Year's, I remembering thinking to myself, "I wonder how different my life will be in a year?
And now here I am a year later. How unbelievably fast does time go?
As I expected, my life has changed tremendously but not necessarily in the ways I thought it would. I have best friends who live across the country, and as we text each other we have to keep in mind the time difference. My little brother is now a foot taller than me. Thanks to public transportation in Boston, I suck at driving more than I did when I left California. My hair that was once a pixie cut now finally fits into a ponytail. I've taught myself to write 10-page papers in a night if I need to. Living with two roommates has showed me I am not a friendly morning person.
And surprisingly there are some things that stayed constants in my life. My best friends from high school and my boyfriend all still talk the same and laugh at the same things and we still have the same good times together. My dog still sheds everywhere and my room is still messy as soon as I step into it. Family dinners still happen every night and the weather in California is still as reliable as ever.
But most of all, I'm still the same. I remember being so nervous that living in Boston and being a college student would make me a completely different person. But it's not that way at all.
I'm still the same old me, maybe a little smarter, a little older, and definitely more appreciative than I was last Christmas.
Holiday season in a big city like Boston is beautiful. It's like the rushing city streets and tall skyscrapers that on an average day seem menacing and overbearing, wrap themselves around you. They pull you in for a hug, the buildings all sporting wreaths and tinsel and the streets lined with lighted trees. The duck pond in the park freezes over for warmly dressed skaters to strut their best moves or, in my case, to grip the rail and hope for the best.
Choosing a college with either a traditional or urban campus was a hard decision for me back in the spring of my senior year. I know many students shy away from the idea of an urban campus for fear of missing out on the typical college experience, not having a quad and football team, or other important aspects of a school campus.
However from my time at Emerson these past few months, I can tell you there is no typical college experience. None of the movies prepare you for what it will actually be like. And when it comes to an urban campus, the things you think you'll be missing out on you'll gain through other experiences.
Emerson College is located directly in downtown Boston, across the street from the Boston Common and a block from Chinatown and the Theatre District. The city of Boston is as much a part of Emerson's campus as are the tall skyscraper buildings we call classrooms and dorms. Having to direct myself on public transportation to the airport or exploring the city with friends has given me a sense of independence and confidence that I don't know where I would have gotten anywhere else.
I am so grateful that I chose to spend my four years on an urban campus, but I know it's not for everyone.
So I guess my best advice to high-school seniors is this: When it comes to choosing a college give as much thought to the campus and the city surrounding it as you will your major and your roommate.
Do you feel comfortable? Can you live there for four years? Do the city and/or campus excite you? Can you imagine how different your life will be in a year?
Victoria Hulbert, a graduate of South High School in Torrance, writes every other Monday about her first year at Emerson College in Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.