by Katie Griffin, Class of 2023
As a California girl, born and raised, I get a lot of different reactions being here in North Carolina. Most people, outside of school of course, will ask how in the world I ended up all the way across the country in Mebane, of all places. This is usually accompanied by shaking their heads and a blatant look of disbelief. They always congratulate me when I tell them it’s for school but most will follow-up by asking whether it’s a culture shock and whether I’ll go back. While it’s not the typical environment I’m used to, it’s also not a shock in any way. I have had more friendly interactions with neighbors in two months than I had in California in 24 years; this is different, perhaps, but I’m all for it. In general, the pace of life seems a little slower and maybe more relaxed out here. It doesn’t feel like the hustle and bustle of the city which is what I experienced in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. I appreciate that there is less of a rush, less traffic, and the struggle for parking has been minimal. With food being close to the top of my priority list, I am constantly on Yelp trying to figure out where to eat next. First of all, it seems like Yelp is perhaps used less frequently and therefore I find I get more recommendations by word of mouth but there is plenty of good food to be found, not to worry! So, when I think about what I miss from the Golden State, my family and friends are the only things that come to mind. In response to whether I’ll go back, I honestly don’t know yet. I can say I’m very much enjoying it so far and I’m open to where life (and jobs) take me.
Don’t get me wrong, it was scary to move to a place where I didn’t know anyone and logistically it was incredibly difficult. I feel so grateful that immediately after matching, my cohort created a group text message which was active constantly. By the time I moved out in August, I felt like I already knew them. In terms of logistics, my second-year buddy, Jade (Class of 2022), had moved out from Oregon and gave me some pointers which were much appreciated. I still wavered back and forth between all my moving options and in the end, I think it was probably not my best choice. Still in the grips of COVID, everything is so much more expensive. This is why I decided to go the route of selling all my big furniture, hauling all my stuff that could fit in my car, and shipping a few extra boxes. While this did save me having to pay to ship my car across the country and paying for a moving truck/service, I didn’t know that so much furniture was going to be on backorder, with ETAs of anywhere from 4 to 16 weeks. There are plenty of used furniture options but after looking around at probably 10 different stores, I was exhausted and went the route of ordering online instead. Two months in, I still didn’t have a dining room table, or a dresser, or a nightstand, so I am looking forward to getting those but I do feel like I have what I need and am getting by just fine.
Overall, having to get up and move somewhere completely new can absolutely be scary! I encourage anyone who is in a similar situation to reach out to current students to see what their experiences were like and to other students in your class. It can be so much easier to envision yourself somewhere when you have built a foundation with the people you’re going to be spending copious amounts of time with. Lastly, I would just say to try and be as open as you can to what you might find. You might match somewhere that’s not your first choice or a place you hadn’t fully been able to see yourself living and it is totally okay to be worried, stressed, anxious, sad, scared, or any combination thereof. What I hope is that you are open to the opportunities and possibilities that are presented, that you seek some of these out, and that eventually some excitement, joy, happiness, and sense of belonging slowly starts to creep in.