Blogger: Becca Patch
Last week, I was sitting on a couch in front of a roaring fire, listening to the rain pound on the roof, which is pretty par for the course for an Oregon winter. Today, I’m sitting on a bench in the middle of the quad at Oxy and everyone’s wearing shorts… which is pretty par for the course for a California winter. The five weeks of winter break are over, and I recently had the startling realization that I’ll never have a free month for winter break again (I have this inkling that jobs don’t work like that). I’ve been thinking about home a lot recently. The first picture is of me and my friend Elise on a hike in Oregon!
There isn’t any place quite like beautiful, rural Southern Oregon. It was a quiet place to grow up—it’s the kind of small town that you see on television, with town traditions like erecting 10-ft holiday cards, life-size Nutcracker statues, and Christmas trees that block off most of the downtown area. I see everyone I know at the grocery store. Moving to Los Angeles was a huge shock in more ways than one, but I’m so glad I took the leap. The second picture is taken from my front door, no filters, I swear!
I want to make an appeal to all of my small-town friends out there: take the leap. Really, it doesn’t matter if you’re from a small town, the East Coast, Hawai’i, or LA—college feels like a huge leap of faith. You’re leaving a place you’ve been comfortable in for years to go to somewhere completely new, filled with weird, new people.
This might sound a little odd, but I’m all for “weird.” One of the best things about college is being challenged to think about life in ways that you haven’t before, and that’s not something you can do if everyone believes the entirely same thing. If it’s startling, maybe you’re doing something right. Consider the lives of people you never thought of before, realize your mistake, and begin to learn. Listen to your favorite rap song with a new ear, and take a critical look at your own choices. There’s nothing wrong with realizing that you don’t know as much about the world as you thought. That’s what college is all about!
Maybe I was a little behind the curve when I came to LA. As an example, I had never seen a Christmas tree lot before and had no idea what they were. In my town we chop down a tree in our backyard. The last picture is me, holding a hacksaw and getting ready to take down that tree! My small-town experiences were really different than my friends, but that was wonderful. At Oxy you meet people from every place and walk of life, and the classroom discussion model allows you to learn from each other. My classmates taught me about city life, and I shared with them my perspective from rural country. In the end, we all learned.
It’s also awesome if your friends are from different places—I’ve explored entirely new parts of LA and Southern California through friends that are local, but over winter break I also had the opportunity to share rural Oregon with three of my best friends and it was one of the best experiences of my life!
If I can give you any winter break wisdom, it’s this: love your hometown. It’s a wonderful place, even if all you want now is to get out (that’s what I wanted this time senior year). But don’t be afraid to pursue the new, the “weird,” or the challenging, because those are the opportunities you’ll learn the most from and that’s the kind of amazing experience Oxy has been for me.