That Time I… Left my small town for college

Jeweliana Register is a senior communication major with a passion for public relations and writing who hails from Lake City, Florida. You can usually find her catching up with friends over iced coffee, looking at cute dogs on Instagram or planning her next adventure.

I come from a small town in North Florida, but most people consider us to be “South Georgia” because of our traditional southern hospitality and our thick southern accents. In my town, everyone says “yes ma’am”, “no sir” and “thank you”. “Ya’ll” is a big part of our vocabulary, and choruses of “bless your heart” can be heard in almost every conversation. We also have the best sweet tea, the prettiest sunsets and the best Friday night lights, if you ask me.

(Permission from  J. Register) Register took this photo of a sun set in Lake City.
(Permission from J. Register) Register took this photo of a sun set in Lake City.

Growing up, I always had a love/hate relationship with living in my little town. You could never make a quick trip to Walmart without seeing at least one person you knew, and everyone knew everything about everyone… Or so they thought. Life in Lake City was a lot like you would assume if you’ve heard any country song about a small town, and Sam Hunt definitely painted an accurate picture of breakups in small towns. “I can’t wait to graduate and get out of here,” was a common phrase amongst high schoolers, my friends and myself included. So, when it came time to pick a university, I applied at Florida schools that were at least four hours away from home and eventually decided on NSU. While living in a small town has it’s perks, I was ready for a change.

(Permission from J. Register) Register's dog, Cutie perusing the local terrain in Lake City
(Permission from J. Register) Register’s dog, Cutie perusing the local terrain in Lake City

Bags packed, I headed to sunny Fort Lauderdale to pursue a degree in communication, not even fully knowing what that meant or how my college experience would turn out. I knew a whopping zero people when I arrived on campus, but something about that felt very freeing. I had the opportunity to build a life here from the ground up and make my experience exactly what I wanted it to be.

I was excited and nervous, like any freshman would be, but I had no idea what was instore for me. Little did I know that I would be in for a whirlwind of changes — which I’ll admit, I was a little resistant to — and that my life would change completely. I became engulfed in homesickness, and I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to end. I missed coffee shop chats with friends that I’d known since kindergarten. I missed being able to have lunch with my family and I missed coming home to my dog every evening. I realized that I actually really loved my small town, but I also loved my new adventure at NSU. Confused is an understatement for how I felt constantly.

Homesickness was not something that I planned for. The adjustment to the rigor of college coursework, the idea of having to make all new friends, and the task of settling into a new living environment was a lot to get used to. Feelings of uncertainty became my new normal for a few months, and I was afraid that I had made a wrong move college wise. I loved my school, but the distance seemed to keep growing as the months went on.

Flash forward to almost exactly a year later. I have found my place on campus between my club involvements, my major, my job and my friends, and I could not be happier about it. The feelings of homesickness still linger every now and then, but I know that NSU is where I am supposed to be. The changes have made me stronger and the experience has taught me so much more than I would have ever imagined it would.

For anyone who is feeling that ache of homesickness, give it time. As cliché as it sounds, no change is easy and change cannot be adjusted to overnight. Leaving home was one of the best decisions that I have made, but returning home is still one of the best feelings.

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