by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl
High school graduation? Done.
College chosen? Check.
Summer of freedom? Wow, it's almost over!
Are you packed to leave home? Well... maybe.
Do you have your nerves in check? Um... well... no...
Leaving home for the first time can be a particularly unnerving experience (even more so if you come from a close-knit family), and that big, tangled, mangled knot of feelings can be even harder to unravel if you've decided to go to college far from home. However -- there is nothing wrong with that! It's okay to be nervous, anxious, or even straight-up scared.
When you're about to leave home, though, first take a couple deep breaths, and then remind yourself why you chose the path you did in the first place. Remember what you want, what goal you've set your eyes on, and what dream you're chasing down. Now that you've got yourself all motivated again, and tucked your nerves back into the bottom of your heart and the back of your brain, realize something else: This is a big old world, that is true. BUT: No matter where you go, you are who you are. Wherever your path takes you, home is a phone call away. However far away you are from where you started, you can get back the same way you came. Water is still water, a highway is still a highway, and (like my dad told me) horses are still horses.
The point of all of that rambling? Yes, lots of things will change when you leave home, especially if you go far away. No, not everything will be completely different, and you will not be totally lost.
For me, there were so many things I had to adjust to, as you've read (or can read!) in previous articles. A two-hour time difference, totally different foods, language and culture shifts, and a quiet apartment instead of a rowdy house were all areas of life that changed for me when I moved to New Mexico for college. There were plenty of things that stayed the same, though. Some of them will seem a little insignificant, and some might be rather surprising, but that's all a part of life and growing up!
Probably the most important similarity from Pennsylvania to New Mexico is the fact that I've continued to go to church, and refused to stop growing in my faith. This is incredibly crucial to me, as I've gotten through some of life's rough patches only by the grace of God and the people He's put in my life. I've been able to become a stronger, better person partly through the people I've met and friends I've made around church since I've been to college. One of the coolest things in life -- in my eyes anyway -- is to see people encouraged by faith!
Another thing that stays the same when you leave home is knowing that whatever task is put in front of you, you're going to do the best you can, and give it all you've got. There's no point to doing something halfway, especially once you know you've got to do it to get where you want to go in life. It doesn't matter if the project involves classes, collegiate sports, or a group you're involved in, it's all something that requires your best effort. Think about it: If what you've got to do is a project for a major class, why procrastinate? Why not do your best? I grew up on the notion that if you're going to do something, you'd best do it right.
That's another thing: Despite the fact that I'm so far away from my family, I do talk to them fairly regularly, or text message them, anyway! It can be encouraging to talk to your parents, and sometimes it can be the kick in the pants of motivation that you need to get through a long lecture class, or that tough project that you just keep putting off. Calling home to talk to your family sure doesn't make you any less of a college student; in fact, it just might make you better.
Having friends you can trust makes a world of a difference as well. The longer you're out of high school, the more you realize that it's so true that one or two good friends are better than lots of kinda friends. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with being friendly and having lots of friends, either!
The part of my life that changed the least when I went to college is definitely different from most people. I am a college rodeo athlete; my horses came across the country to college with me. This year, I've got three horses relying on me to be fed in the morning and at night, to be exercised, and be generally well cared for. This is my focus, and, really, my passion. I've been blessed enough to have three great rodeo horses, and in order for them to work their hardest for me, I need to take good care of them, and why wouldn't I? No one else is going to do it if I don't!
When it comes to practice time, everything is the same in the New Mexico pen as it is in the Pennsylvania arena, except considerably more competitive -- yes, even at practice! That's what I'm here for, though, and I love it. In the breakaway roping, I still have to rope my calf around the neck and watch my rope break off my saddle...
In the team roping, I still have to rope the horns of my steer and turn him just right for my partner to catch his two back legs.
When I work on goat tying, I still have to step off my horse, stay on my feet, and tie my goat's legs tightly in order to get a time.
Barrel racing (my favorite) is still a race against the clock to see which team of girl and horse can race around three barrels the fastest without knocking any down.
These events don't change, no matter if I'm in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Arizona, or anywhere in between. This is what often helps me to keep the rest of my life in perspective, too: My rodeo stays consistent, and so do the choices I make that keep me eligible and allowed to rodeo.
What is it for you that gives you a break from the chaos of life? What do you need to take with you, or find when you get to college, which allows you to know that some aspects of life will never change?
Decide what it is for you; figure out your passion. It doesn't matter what it looks like to anyone else (unless, of course, it's dangerous or illegal...). It just matters that it keeps you motivated and driven to do your best at everything you do.
If you're motivated enough to consider coming to the United States to study, you can do anything you set your mind to, and that will always stay the same.
Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:
Best of luck in all your endeavors,
To begin your journey to study in the USA, use USjournal.com!