Hi there! Today I’d like to share about my experience moving out of state for college. If you’re considering going to a school that’s kind of far away from your home, you might be a bit nervous, like I was. You might wonder: Is it worth it? Do I want to go far away?

Before coming to Biola a few weeks ago, I lived in the same city for 20 years! It’s safe to say I became very comfortable and familiar with Salem, Oregon. And, I really like familiarity.

When considering colleges, I had the choice of going to a wonderful Christian University that was only 5 minutes away from my house! Going there was the obvious choice. If I had stayed there, I’d be near my family, friends, and church community. I could have stayed in the place where I was so deeply rooted in relationships.

Though staying in Salem seemed like an ideal choice, I felt God calling and pulling me away. As confident as I was about moving away, I still felt nervous about leaving my parents and community. Even the culture, environment, nature, and weather of Biola’s location would be super different than what I was used to. I wondered if I would be able to adjust.

I think the idea of leaving what we’re familiar with is uncomfortable for a lot of us. That’s totally normal! But I would like to encourage you by sharing some of the positive things I’ve discovered about moving far away.

1. Gaining Independence and Resiliency

Since moving away from home, I’ve realized that I was very dependent on my close friends and family (especially my parents) for support. This is not a bad thing! Having people to turn to is so important.

However, now I’ve realized that being far away from my community has catalyzed me into truly becoming an independent adult. I have to navigate my bad days without immediately running to my go-to support people for comfort.

Let me illustrate the difference between now and back then: Back home, when I was having a rough day, or a mini “crisis,” I would sometimes drive 5 minutes to my mom or dad’s work offices. They were able to go into a conference room and pray with me while I cried things out. Sometimes, I would go to my best friend’s house. Of course now I can’t just hop in the car and drive to see any of those people (that would be a 14 hour drive).

So now, on my rough days, I have to pause and ask myself, “Okay, self: What’s up? What do I need right now? What action should I take?” I’ve had to make choices in those hard moments. Regardless of the action or solution I end up choosing, I’ve been learning how to independently problem-solve when I’m stressed out.

I can still FaceTime my parents and friends! However, there’s something different about not being in the same room as them. It has helped me grow up a little bit. If I had stayed back home, it may have taken longer for me to feel like a “true adult”.

2. New Friends and Community!

Although I absolutely love my people back home, I think it’s been really cool to meet new people and build new relationships! Coming to Biola was like a fresh start. Every day there’s potential for a beautiful new friendship to begin!

Because I value relationships, connections, and community, I’ve been trying to deepen relationships with some of the people around me: girls in my hallway, professors, co-workers, and classmates.

I already adore some of the people I’ve gotten to know here. I actually can’t even imagine not knowing them! It blows my mind to think that every person we meet has the potential to greatly impact our life. For example, there’s this one, amazing professor I have, who has greatly influenced my future. If I had stayed back home, I wouldn’t have met her!

My point in saying all of this is that no matter where we go for school, there are opportunities to meet incredible, life-changing people. We just haven’t met them yet!

Another thing about moving far away is that I’m surrounded by people who don’t know a lot about me or my past. So, when I first meet someone, I get to decide how I want to introduce and describe myself. I asked myself before coming to Biola, “As a 20-year old girl in this season of my life, who am I? What do I want new people to know about me?”

It’s been a unique and thought-provoking experience. A fresh start has been a wonderful thing.

3.  Strengthening Faith

Being in a different state and starting fresh can feel like being in a new world. It’s been a little hard to adjust, as I don’t typically do well with big changes and new environments.

But being away from home has helped me to remember some important parts of God’s character. What I’ve remembered is that God is faithful, never-changing, loyal, and always with me! When I feel like everything else is different, sometimes I find comfort in remembering that the Lord is always the same, and that he’s on my team.

The same God who’s been with me in my hardest times is still with me in this new place! Though I’m 934 miles away from my home, the Lord is here. Knowing this adds intimacy to my relationship with him, as I’m able to depend on him 

4. New Experiences and Opportunities!

Finally, being in a new place just offers new experiences and opportunities!

Back home, I had done pretty much everything there was to do in my city. I had gone to all the fun places, tried every restaurant, and seen practically all there was to be seen.

Now, I get to explore this new area! There are endless new coffee shops and restaurants to try! There are shopping centers, fun activities, and so much nature to be seen! (Not to mention, here at Biola, I get to go to Disneyland more often.)

Being in another state also means different job and internship opportunities. This is true no matter where you go. But, I wanted to mention this as a way of pointing out that anywhere you go for school, you have different options waiting for you.

I hope you feel encouraged about the idea of moving far away for school. Yes, it can be a tough adjustment; but I believe it can also grow you and bless you in multiple ways.