Time dwindles. My friends pretend to, or truly do, welcome the end. My mom tells me not to “wallow in nostalgia.” Some say UConn is a vacuum meant more for livestock than budding adults, a place where all there really is to do is drink and walk around. They’re not wrong, but they’re unimaginative.
I wasn’t supposed to come to UConn. In fact, it was my last choice. Scratch that, I didn’t even consider it an option – I applied merely to appease my parents, planning on attending a glossier, perhaps private college somewhere nowhere near Connecticut. I need to go, is what I kept telling myself. The Nutmeg State is too small for me, yessir! I’d only return to see the family; I’d immerse myself in the culture of one of the top cities in this country, be it Chicago, D.C. or Boston; I’d meet people entirely new to me, people so different and spectacular from what I had known that they seemed to have conjured themselves from thin air. My plan was looking good, too. I got into nine of the 13 schools I applied to, and my choice became between going to school in my favorite city on the planet – Boston – or enrolling at American University in D.C., the perfect school for me.
I was led to believe my family could afford to send me to any of the schools I applied to. The truth was unforgiving. UConn was the only school out of the 13 we had enough money for, and it was technically on par with some of the ludicrous pricing of schools I was admitted into, like George Washington University. My world had gone from wide open to slammed shut. For months after that I was always slightly in a bad mood, and sometimes full-blown depressed. I f**king hate Connecticut, I just want to leave.
My mother and I discussed the possibility of transferring after some time at UConn, an idea I warmed to at first. And yet, when it came time to make that decision, I couldn’t do it.
Storrs and I clicked.
Shippee was full of intelligent degenerates. Professors wanted to put me on. The Daily Campus swallowed me whole – days after moving in I was writing four to five articles a week. I was worried my only friends would be those whom I’d met in high school, and I did stay close with a lot of familiar people. That said, the mix between people I’d met at UConn and people I’d already known found equilibrium. Every day I woke up with a sense of wonder and possibility. It was home, but it was a playground of unforeseen dalliances with love, lust, drunkenness and intellectualism.
So I stayed.
As I neared the end of my second semester, I saw how much progress I’d made – going from a tiny tadpole in a massive pond to a small frog in a gigantic pool is more cathartic than it should be – I saw the relationships I’d cultivated, and I couldn’t see myself leaving. In fact, I saw the future.
While this goes beyond public schools versus private schools, it is an extension of that debate. Maybe I looked down on UConn because it is a state school (although it may have had more to do with the fact that it’s a Connecticut state school), but I am certain I received a quality education from this institution. I went to private school until fourth grade, but public school is more my speed. The people are realer, rawer, less snobbish. I’m graduating with a minimal amount of debt. I feel prepared for the real world. And there are about 35 professors, friends and others I don’t want to say goodbye to. Akin to my desire to remain at UConn come the close of my freshman year, with less than a month left, I don’t want to go. My alma mater will go on without me, but I know I’ll forever be nostalgic for Storrs.
I’m glad I came, I’m glad I stayed.
Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.