In my childhood and early teenage years, I was always envious of my peers. Many of them had cultivated bonds with each other over several years and sunk their roots into their community. Because they remained stationary in their areas, they were able to share inside jokes, retell countless nostalgic tales, get to know everyone around them, and experience the rapid changes of growing up in a consistent environment they could rely on. This was not my life; my family never stayed in one place for more than four years consecutively.
Due to my parents’ dynamic careers, we were always on the move, constantly accommodating for a new job promotion or a relocation assignment. By the time I was twelve, I had lived in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, two cities in Oregon, and three cities in Israel. The downside to these moves was that I never felt truly at home anywhere. I never felt as though I had enough history in or connections to a place to call it my own. Yet, as I started getting more adjusted to Tulane, I quickly realized how my inconsistent childhood helped me feel grounded in a foreign environment like college.
Growing up on the go has definitely improved my ability to adapt to new situations. After being thrown into different schools, cities, states, and even countries multiple times throughout my life, I’ve gotten used to the fact that different environments require different things for their constituents to flourish. When adjusting to a new place, my priority has always been to understand and become part of the local culture.
Going to school at Tulane and living in New Orleans has been no different. I take every opportunity I can to explore new streets, learn the city’s local history and traditions, attend large campus events, try New Orleans’s signature food, and take in the local sights. Doing this allows me to make become a part of the community that I’m in. And though I am still adapting, my acquired flexibility has helped me since my first days at college.
If there is one thing that starting over has taught me, it’s that nothing ever happens right away. Building relationships with people and making a home for yourself takes time and effort; you have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable for a while. After all, there’s a reason why our oldest relationships are often nearest to our hearts: they’ve been built over a long period of time with thoughtfulness and care.
Another distinct advantage of moving often is that I’ve had the opportunity to see more of the world. While I am in no way a world traveler or raging cosmopolitan, my time adjusting, adapting, and learning in different places has allowed me to accumulate a plethora of knowledge and life experience that acts as a compass of sorts during my confusing moments at school.
Moving into college has definitely been a novel experience for me, and no matter how many new environments I’ve lived through, Tulane’s college atmosphere is one of a kind. But the experiences I’ve had while hopping from town to town have forced me to get a grip of my identity, to ground me, and to teach me how to throw myself headfirst into a new experiences.
While my friends had the privilege of growing up in a familiar community, I attained skills during my traveling childhood that will help me throughout my whole life. Wherever you are in your college experience and whatever challenges you’re experiencing, remember to try and adapt to your surroundings, stay patient, and take on new experiences. In time, you’ll find a way to feel right at home.
COVER PHOTO: Fuel Travel