December 12, 2012 by toheaveninahooptie
As I mentioned in my last post, this weekend I was accepted into the University of Colorado at Boulder. (AKA CU, Boulder, or Heaven). CU is roughly about $50,000 a year for out of state tuition, room, board, vodka, and other necessary college expenditures. This lofty tuition hovering above my head is what initially made me consider the Navy ROTC. I bumped around with private scholarships but found that they are time consuming and probably wouldn’t do me any good anyway since I’m not handicapped, blind, a hermaphadite, an orphan, a minority, a foreigner, a genius, and haven’t started any fortune 500 companies during my high school career. So, I’m accepted into CU but my enrollment depends on weather or not I get the Navy scholarship.
I’m beginning to realize that less than a year from now I’ll be a two day drive from the only home I’ve ever known; Louisiana. I don’t know of a single soul going to CU next year, I don’t know their culture (I know about it; hehe), I don’t my way around Boulder, I don’t know how to drive in snow, hell I don’t even know how to walk through snow, I’ve never lived alone, I’ve never been so far from home for such a long time. Basically, I’m getting a brand new version of every part of life. While this is terrifying, it’s also something I know I need. If I don’t go, the discomfort I avoided would be imminently smaller than the experiences I can have in Boulder. I don’t want to graduate college and be saying that I’m still with the same people, still in the same environment, still the same culture, still the same activities, still the same everything except now I have a college degree. I love my family, friends, and state. It will be heart wrenching to leave what I’ve always loved, but I’m going in the pursuit of finding more to love. Moving to Colorado will be the biggest, most difficult change I’ve had in my young life, but I know in my heart it will be worth it.
So, why Colorado? Why Boulder? Well, for one I’ve been skiing there a handful of times and it’s a truly beautiful place to live. CU’s campus is in the foothills of the Flat Irons; nature will surround me. I’ll be skiing, hiking, and sight seeing minutes away from my dorm. Not many college kids are 45 minutes away from world class ski resorts and, knowing my adventurous personality, I’ll take full advantage of the environment of Colorado. Boulder is also known as a great town for a multitude of things. I’ve heard that it is a nice mix of college student/normal people and that it is relaxed and laid back, yet CU is still an academically rigorous school. (It’s also voted #4 in the most runner cities of America!) The ideals of Boulder also seem different from Louisiana’s. I’ve grown up in a strictly conservative, Republican, Catholic, Southern home and have had little opportunity to explore what else exists. I don’t explicitly disagree with any of the values here, but I don’t want to claim one thing as my opinion before I explore all other options. One thing I’m certain of is that they know how to party up in Boulder, so this Louisianimal should fit right in ;). I digress. My biggest reason for going is the idea of the experience of moving away and living life for myself, by myself. I want to do something with my life, see things, enrich myself, enlighten myself, discover things, think about things, do new things, meet different people; LIVE. I know that I could get this aspect of college at any school that isn’t very close to my home town, but Boulder has all the other things I’m curious about and seems like a good way to get my feet wet in the living-life department. So, that’s why Boulder.
The Navy has sort of intertwined itself into my college search since it will be footin’ the bill, so I feel inclined to write about this too. I never considered myself a military-ish person, even though my brother is a Marine. Listening to what someone tells me for a good portion of my life doesn’t sound too appealing and still doesn’t. Although I could never enlist and subject myself to such obedience, being an Officer (rOtc) isn’t exactly the same. ROTC means that I’ll take a Naval sciences course and have two hours of “drill” once day each week. They’ll pay for my tuition, room, board, even $250 a month for me to spend on expensive boots or gas or whatever else I could want in Colorado. After college, I automatically will be a nurse somewhere in a naval hospital. This is the part I’m iffy about because I’ll probably get put at one of the big hospitals as a new nurse-California or Virginia. After a year or two here, I can probably request a hospital (there’s one in New Orleans!). While I”m working at the hospital I can chose to live on base for free, or if I don’t want to live on base they’ll give me a monthly amount to pay for housing, plus I still get $250 a month for food and a normal nursing salary! Cha ching!! The only downsides I really see is that I’ll be far from home for a while and have little say in where I’m living for about three years. There are two ways to see this: being stuck in some random city across the country or having an opportunity to live in more places and learn more things. Since my original motivation for going to Boulder was to live somewhere other than Louisiana and discover my own life, I’m seeing the Navy as an opportunity to do the same.
The entire process of moving away for college, living on my own, and knowing that I’ll be “moved away” for years after college is daunting. Just the other night I was running in my neighborhood and a flood of memories came pouring in. “Remember your first run on these side walks? Remember running with Henry and calling him trainer? Remember having long days exploring the drainage ditch/”creek?” Remember all the lemon-aide stands over the summer? Remember walking in the neighborhood during countless hurricanes? Remember making a wind sail on a skateboard during Katrina?” My beginnings happened here. This is where I developed who I am, found my friends, bonded with my family, learned my culture; everything I know about myself and my surroundings is tied to Louisiana and the crazy people that live here. My worldview, with the exception of France, has been limited to Louisiana. I love this state and these people. I love my family and, despite the bickering I have with them, I know that without them I’d be a confused mess. My friends are my life and I depend on them for so much of my identity and experiences. I’m leaving this all without the promise that I’ll find something equivalent in Colorado. I know it’s crazy, but I also know it’s an important life lesson. I won’t be gone forever. I can come back to Louisiana whenever I so chose, I’m just finding another place to call home. More experiences, people, and culture to add to my already existing Louisiana-ness.
I can’t say what I hope to find in Colorado because I hope it’s something that I can’t expect. I don’t want to find anything I already know; I want to expand my experiences. It won’t be easy; I’ll miss my family and my home. It will be worth it, though. I’ll get the education I need, the experience I’m striving for, and the opportunity to take better advantage of life. This is my way to make life more than just ho-hum. Colorado will be an experiment of sorts, but isn’t that everything in life?
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”