I'll have to get used to East Coast weather.
I'll have to get used to a lot more than that, but weather strikes me, because the East Coast, where I'll be attending college next year, has a range of temperatures that I've never fully experienced. On top of adjusting to college life, I'll have to adapt to life on the opposite side of the country. This never deterred me from my decision to attend an East Coast university, but I wonder if it would, or did, discourage others.
By now, most graduating seniors know where they'll be next fall. In the past few weeks, my Facebook wall has exploded with posts about my friends' college dilemmas and decisions. As I've watched them choose their colleges, I've noticed that most of them will remain within the state. Some will stay local; others will move south. But nearly all of them will stay in California.
And it makes sense. For the graduating California high school student, there are a multitude of reasons for staying in the Golden State: The weather is fantastic, the environment is familiar and traveling distance is short. Plus, moving to Southern California from the Bay Area allows students a comfortable distance from their parents. It's far enough away to be independent, but close enough to visit home periodically. It's no wonder most students remain in-state for college.
So why did I choose to head east?
At the beginning of my crazy college process, I also wanted to stay in California. I looked at colleges around the state, including several near Los Angeles. Then, as I was researching colleges in the Northeast, I fell in love with the college I'll be attending in the fall. As I thought about it more, I realized there are far more benefits of attending college on the East Coast than I had expected.
East Coast weather may be extreme compared to California's, but it has four distinct and beautiful seasons. The region is rich with history, and many colleges have stunning architecture. Most importantly, I knew moving to the East Coast would force me to move outside my comfort zone, and ultimately expand it. College is a huge step out the door for anyone; how big a step you take depends on how comfortable -- or uncomfortable -- you want to be.
The four years of college are incredibly special. It's when you become more independent and more confident of who you are. You find friends who will last a lifetime. After living all 18 years of my life in the East Bay, I'm ready to broaden my perspective by forcing myself out of the social bubbles I'm protected by. I want to meet people entirely different from me and experience a culture unlike the one I've grown up in. Listening to stories of traveling and living abroad, I've realized there is an invaluable perspective and understanding that can be gained from living far from home. For that, a little seasonal discomfort is a small price to pay.
The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write for the features sections. Marisa Chow is home-schooled in Orinda. Reach her at email@example.com.