The show I was in at The Theatre School closed on November 15th. Since this is my first mainstage production of my college career, my most generous mom came to see it! We are from the West Coast, and being so far away my parents, family, and friends don’t visit often. While I have been working away at my acting training here at DePaul, my mother has not been able to see me perform since I was in high school. Needless to say, this was a really special event, and one I know will not happen often. Since I was preparing for her visit, my out-of-state status was on the brain.
Most DePaul students I know are not from Chicago. This is probably in part due to the fact that this is a private school. Most of my friends are from various states across the country, with most being from the Midwest followed by East coast residents, with a smaller smattering of southerners and West coast kids like me. Mind you this is just based upon my own observations in the group of students I interact with the most. Moving to Chicago from my little Oregon hometown was one of the scariest and most eye opening things I have ever done. I would argue it was the best decision I have made for myself as a young adult person of the world. While I have not traveled the world, or lived in many places, leaving my hometown to experience a new area of the country, to live and breathe a major city, a more diverse city, a region and area with very different culture and values and issues and advantages is really eye opening, and changed the way I view life in this country. While I cannot speak directly on any epiphanies I have had, I cannot stress how important I feel it is to experience a new place, especially in your college years. I would not be the open minded, educated, socially aware person that I am becoming if I had not left my origin of the suburbs of the Pacific Northwest.
When I was applying to college, I knew I wanted to go to school out of state, and many of the members of my family I looked up to also wanted this for me. When debating whether to move away or stay close to home for school, my aunt (who was raised in Portland like me, but went to the east coast for college), she said to me, “Samantha, you are lucky enough to have family here, and people here who will welcome you home. But you need to go away for college, and experience a new place with new people.
You never know until you go and try it out, and don’t worry because you can always come home”. Two and a half years later, I know she was so right. Moving away from the place I spent the first 18 years of my life really gave me a new perspective on the world, just by experiencing a new culture, and new people, a new climate, and seeing new things happen around me, both good and worrisome. It helped me to learn what things from home were important for me to keep, and what new things were important for me to find, including a community of people that were headed in the same forward direction as I am.
For anyone who is looking to go to college, or simply visit a new place for a short while, I would absolutely say DO IT. Even if you decide to return, even if you don’t leave for long, or even if you decide never to go back, leaving the environment you grew up in does a world of difference to the way you see and think about the world around you. While moving 2,000 miles away may not be feasible, spending your college years in a new city, state or region can really help you learn about yourself as an adult. For me, Chicago and DePaul was the place to do just that.
To anyone thinking about coming to this great city from afar, or even in this city looking to go away for a while, just remember you never know until you try it. If your experience is amazing, or less than ideal, you will learn so much about other places and yourself, just remember to do it for yourself. While my aunt was right, and I can always come home, I am discovering that my new home may not be the place I am from, and I would have never known that if I hadn’t taken the chance, and left the comfort and familiarity of my hometown.