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May 24, 2005

Comments

Caitriona

I pray, Hugo, that your fiancee has the wherewithall to be the anchor God has designed for you. If she ever wants to borrow my #12 cast iron skillet, she's welcome to it, so long as I've not broken it over my own husband's head. ;-)

Martha

I will be moving away from home in the fall to go to school, and the truth is that, I'm really looking forward to it. If you can possibly afford it, it is the only way to go. In order to start a new life you have to break with the past.

Caitriona

Martha,

The past has a way of catching up with you.

Castiron

I did find that going to college far from my parents' home helped me to figure out who I was. But it wasn't being away from my family that caused that; it was being away from my high school classmates. Many of whom are great people that I still miss, mind you. But on a campus where only one person had ever known me before, it was a lot easier for me to find out that some things I'd always thought about myself were dead wrong (and that others were, hurrah or alas, true indeed).

In retrospect, I could've gone to a college near one of my aunts or uncles and gotten the best of both worlds -- family nearby, but few old classmates. But that wasn't a consideration when I was applying for schools, nor did my parents suggest that it should be one.

mythago

The past has a way of catching up with you.

Catchy, but can you be less ominous and more specific?

miz_geek

Okay, this is a month late. But I only recently found your blog and I followed the link on today's post about Sandra Loh (who I also love). And I feel compelled to put in my own two cents.

Relevant background: I grew up in Texas. I'm not from there; my parents are "Yankees", and I even consider myself "half-Jewish" (I probably shouldn't have said that part, but heck, I can describe my ethnic background however I want, can't I?). In high school I couldn't wait to go somewhere else for college. It wasn't so much about getting away from my parents (although that was part of it) as it was getting away from high school. But you know what? People thought I was crazy. At my boring, middle-class, mostly-white high school, lots of students were going to school in town, and I think I could probably count on my fingers the number who were actually leaving the state. Why would anyone want to leave Texas, after all?

So my perception of the American/WASP/whitebread version of college was that you stayed at home. Or at least close enough to home to bring home your laundry on weekends.

But I also strongly believe in the benefits of going away to college, but I think a big chunk of that benefit is from meeting and living with people who aren't like you. It challenges your world-view. Broadens your horizons. In many ways. Some of this is major learning-about-diversity stuff. And some of this is learning that your hometown isn't the center of the universe. But going away to college is not the only way this can happen. Growing up as a member of a minority group can certainly accomplish something similar. Every day you're made aware of differences between you and everyone else. You don't need college to challenge your world view - that happens all the time.

That said, I still think that college is more fun if it's not just a continuation of high school - Grade 13. Important things happen outside the classroom, and those things are often missed by students who only come in for classes.

Dan

While searching for some guidance about the pros and cons about going away for school, I stumbled upon this page (which has been informative). I am currently debating whether or not to go to the pacific coast (for the ocean and away from home) or stay in the interior (close to home). This year I had a chance to travel abroad for 6 months and enjoyed it immensely. But coming home was hard, my friends had changed and my best friend and girlfriend are weary of getting close to me again because of the possibility of me leaving again.
So it’s not the thought of leaving, it’s the thought of coming home again that scares me. Will I be able to 'come home again?' And will I have trouble making lasting friendships with the thought of me going away again always scare people off?

Caitriona

Dan,

These are good questions you ask. I have just gotten a couple of emails from our Ukrainian "son" (exchange student) and his mother. Some of their comments might help you with your questions. Yes, you can go home again, but it's not the same. You and everyone you were away from will have all grown while apart. You'll all be different than you were before.

From our Ukrainian:

"It's been three weeks since I arrived to Ukraine, and these weeks were rather interesting. It's really great to get back with your family and friends and get back into your culture. But still I miss my host family =(((((( (even ) =) and the busy American life. I miss the school and some teachers. I miss my friend !!!!! WHERE ARE YOU???? I miss loads of stuff. I have a bit of work to do over here. I mean studying. I've missed a few important things in several classes so I need to catch up with everybody else. My next school year is my last one, so I really have to do my best now. I miss the farm and all the animals as well. Now I'm visiting with my mum in Kiev our capital. It's amazing how nice it is at home."


From his mother:

"To smooth the things over came to Kyiv for weekend on Thursday and at last we spent some days together enjoying the opportunity to talk and walk together. In general he is doing fine, but I see how certain things are not easy for him now. But I believe that those 10 months he spent out of Ukraine taught him important lessons which he will never forget. And, certainly, our support and understanding will help him to readjust. He misses you all very much as he could miss his real family. And I think, that you are a family, though now you are apart across the Ocean. When he speaks about you, there is so much warmth in his eyes! And he uses all the time the word "We" (like "We went there..." or "We did this and that...") when I ask him how he spent those several months after December 2004 move. It shows that he stays with you no matter how far he is from you now."

I hope this helps.

amy

I came across this thread looking for some insight and salve for the feelings of loss and disconnection I am having. I'm 33, and spent 15 years in the college town I went to just 90 minutes outside of where I grew up. I've traveled some, but always enjoyed coming home. For years now I've felt that I had to move, had to get away, had to make that big leap that I'd intended to do so so much earlier. To prove to myself that I could, for some silly reason.

Well now I've made that leap, and five weeks later, I feel as if I've made a dire, dire mistake. I'm 2300 miles away from the family (consisting of both friends, relatives and colleagues) that cared for me, nurtured me and supported me. I'm completely lost, disconnected, and without support. My husband is even gone this week traveling so it's even worse.

I wish for nothing more than to go home. To walk the streets I know, to run into an old friend or colleague at the local market, to sit in a park that I seemingly know every blade of grass.

I've come to realize my life is not about where my house is, or what the sky is like there. It's about those around me.

A dire, dire mistake.

Mike

I am in the same situation, am 29, and am having to make the difficult decision of going off, potentially very far from home, as a career choice, or staying relatively close to my home.

A dire dire mistake...yes, that is the feeling I am getting if I make my career choice based solely on career, and not on family.

I am deciding to strike a balance, and not move too far from home, no matter what the job is. Let the career be damned.

The right job will come, one closer to where my family is, in due time.

I must make priorities in my life. My largely white colleagues wont understand.

Let the career be damned.

Hung

There has been a lot of documented anti-Asian discrimination at UC uni's, where they've desperately tried to enforce multi-racial quotas. Unfortunately, since East Asians average higher academic qualifications than all other races, this means that many Asian candidates with the same or higher creds get denied admission. Maybe Amy was a victim of this.

That said, Asians tend to be more family-oriented as a culture - and the family unit there provides a more reliable multi-generational support system for all in the family. There are no nursing homes in Asia. Instead, they just move in with their eldest son (or closest thing to that). Even here, most Asian parents assume financial responsibility for their child's college education - whereas many other race parents don't (lifeline stops at 18). Which is not even to mention welfare recipients here, who may rely upon other taxpayers...

Anyways, you can't isolate just one variable out of context like "independence" to compare the 2 models fully. Each is its own complete complex system of checks and balances.

Lee

OK...........I find this subject absolutely fascinating, and have been thinking of how best to articulate my own thoughts upon the matter.

As much as anything else, I am interested by the differences between the US college culture in which most of you have experience, and that in England, where I live.

Hugo and others have mentioned family financial circumstances which may affect people simply not being able to afford to go to college. In England, 'college' tends to refer to a 'sixth form' (16-18/19) Further Education centre where people sit their A Levels and which are almost always instututions attended living close to home-often they are actually the same instution as the high school. 'University' is the term used for a Higher Education centre, though these are also sometimes called colleges. In the UK, people tend to be considered as adults from the age of 18, and assessments for financial support tend to primarily consider the student themselves rather than the family or household. After a few lean years, the UK seems to be moving back towards provision of a substantial part grant (non-repayable), part loan (repayable) support scheme, with further provisions of bursaries, scholarships, fee waivers or reductions etc paid by the universities themselves, the relevant academic departments or other organisations. It is tru if you don't get a fee waiver, you will have to pay £3000 per year (but only post-graduation)but that is the same whether you live at home or move away and the government may scrap those fees sometime soon. It is also quite easy to get a job to earn money while at university, and it is difficult NOT to get into university because the entry requirements tend to be quite low, and unless you TOTALLY screw up, you will get your degree because the grade requirements for your finals and coursework are also quite low. There are always ways and means.

So it is an environment which is conducive to people going to university. The prevailing trend seems to be around 80/20 in favour of moving away, a ratio which has remained relatively consistent for years, even in the few years when there were no grants (you guessed it, that was when I went!). Nowhere in England is more than an afternoon's drive away from anywhere else in England, so there aren't the same implications of moving a LONG way (unless one chooses to study abroad, which is a small but significant trend-on the whole, international students tend to come TO England, for all or part of their degree).

After completing my A Levels, I actually could have continued my studies at the local sixth-form college, which is only a few minutes' walk from the family home, and provides excellent courses in the relevant subjects. Or I could have gone to another good university a short bus-ride away. Most people in England probably could stay at home and do the right course,as most locales have universities. However, I decided I definitely wanted to move away to university, living away most of the time rather than coming home every weekend (although many friends were staying at home), applied for universities which were away and got offers. It was no big deal. My folks just said it would save me a lot of money if I stayed at home, but they respected my decision. The thing is, my decision was NOT for the reasons of wanting to get away from my folks (whom I love dearly and get on with very well), or wanting to run wild free from the constraints of home (there were never really any constraints as an adult). I thought it would be life experience to move away on my own, something which would be valued by employers, and a chance to meet new people and have new experiences in a new environment-a total change of scene! I think part of it was wanting to move somewhere bigger and busier-a city, as I come from what you in the US would probably call a "smalltown". Maybe if I'd happened to have grown up in a city I wouldn't have moved, but I still think really, on balance, that I would, to experience a different city and to live away independently. At the same time, I did not want to move a million miles away and applied to universities only in the north of England. Another (minor) attraction was the prospect of having my own room for the first time (university halls of residence accommodation in Ebngland tends to be single rooms, and people tend to live on-campus only for the first year of their degree, afterward renting accommodation near campus).

I made my choice for a university 30 miles away, far enough to live away and near enough to get home easily for a visit. I was also keeping the option open of travelling in after my first or second year if I didn't find accommodation (not usually an issue), or just decided to move back home (though even if I'd gone further I could have transferred to a local uni if I had decided to do that).If I had travelled in it would have been too far for a quick lift back after a night out, so I would have been isolated from the social scene. I knew people who lived near me who travelled in, but I decided not to do that.

After I graduated, I got a live-in voluntary job at a university 120 miles away from home. I only came home at the holidays, primarily because I was supposed to be there most of the time, whereas at the university where I studied I usually came home at least once a month.

After that I moved back home, got a job locally, and have remained at home ever since. I had originally planned to continue living away, but I love the job.

So, you can see, in relativve (England-only) terms, I have, in my adult life, experienced living at home, a short distance away, and a long distance away. I never experienced awful homesickness or disorientation when away, but, at the same time, I have never had a burning desire to move away again. None of it has ever really been any great shakes. Of course, I recognise that much of this is relevant to my personal and family circumstances at that particular time, as I had no real demands on me to keep me at home. I sometimes wonder if it made that much difference, as people I met who lived at home near to the universities I studied and worked at, and near to my family home, seemed to get as much out of it as those who moved. On the whole, I would encourage people to move away, but I recognise that everyone is different.

Chris

I'm 37, a SWM from Mass. who came to California. 'Seems to boil down to: should we wandering whites feel guilty for screwing up the American family?

Takes on this vary by sex, let alone race, going back to pioneer days as depicted in the "Into the West" TV series. The women wanted to stay put, and tag-alongs would blame the men when things got rough on the trail. Yet when one main character came home with his Indian wife, home wasn't so welcoming to them.

Even today, I think it depends on the family. If the bonds are tight and true - meaning, in my view, if freedom of choice is respected - the tradeoff can be well worth it. My uncle's family is an example; he pissed off my grandma when he left Mass. at about my age, when his new bride found a job in the paper that led to San Diego. Of their two daughters, one stayed in SoCal; the other married a Navy pilot, moved to Virginia, and raised two great kids. True, homebodies would smirk at the "convenience" that one daughter had stayed "local" to better care for her widowed Mom - local, that is, with her South Carolina husband! The physical separation with the other daughter and the grandkids was a challenge, but from what I've seen, neither daughter was favored, and with constant communication, that family has always been and remains as close as they come, white or brown or green.

As for me, I happen to have a kind yet dominating, Italian homebody sister-in-law that's come close to really screwing stuff up in our clan. When I went to USC for aerospace instead of Boston U., she and my brother actually touted me as "brave," like I was some kind of heroic example to behold. I was so great, in fact, that when my brother got his boss' OK to drag his family on a cross-country vacation, I was informed I was the most popular destination with the kids, beating out Mount Rushmore, Vegas, and then some. 'Fact was, Mother Hen had been constantly brainwashing the kids into thinking nothing worthwhile was out here; they all made my brother utterly miserable on that trip-of-a-lifetime.

Yet once I took a dream-career out here in '90 - and especially when I didn't make it back for Christmas once - I was villified. As was my mother, when Dad died and she wanted to move back to Boston to be closer to her other kids - because she'd compete for my bro's time and the needs of my dear sister-in-law's own parents. Her sister in turn, who'd followed her husband out to SoCal to keep him employed, was still catching hell for doing so long after she'd divorced the guy and moved back! California was the great evil magnet that then "pulled" away her own son - who went to college in Boston first like a good man, then following his high school sweetheart, bolted for San Francisco with no notice or permission to start a music career.

However, since he's cut some CDs, found "the" girl, and Sister-in-Law's come out and met the latter's parents, all's OK now with him. That her daughter, who did all her college locally too, is now working in R.I. and dating a SoCal guy, also seems peachy.

When I, however, became disabled and lost my career to fibromyalgia some years back, Sister-in-Law and brother both dissuaded others in my family from helping me move back. Bon Jovi sings, "Who says you can't go home?" Well you can, but some would make you want to really think twice about it: not for your own good, as they'd have you think, but for their own reasons - turf wars, past events, whatever.

And in that case, a young man or woman is probably best off on their own.

Pam

I came across your article " A Long Reflection On Moving Away From Home" and I have to tell you that I really enjoyed reading it. So much so that it has compelled me to write to you. I have also noticed that families that immigrate to the United Stated compared to those who are born and raised here, consider a college education important, but not as important as family togetherness. This is the case with my family but I chose not to be pressured by their way of thinking. I too consider the journey a person goes through to find their individual self very important. My family could not support me through college financially but that didn’t stop me. I decided to take the leap and move away to obtain a degree in Criminal Justice and to find myself.
So there I was, away from home and labeled a "selfish rebel", living with boyfriend which is unheard of in my culture (you get married first then live with a man), and hardly any money for school tuition, and no job at that. I knew it would be hard, but I wanted individuality! So I kept on. The hardest part of it all in the beginning was being labeled a "selfish rebel". I'll give you a little insight on how that came about. You see, while lived at home I had to pay my parents rent. They felt that “as long as you live under the same house you help support the household.” When I left, my money was no longer there, so they had to move in with my sister. Mind you, my sister and brother also had to endure the same thing, but instead of moving out they opted for marriage and a family instead, which is also great but not what I wanted. Back to my point though, they felt I was being selfish, and going against their wishes. And so underneath their breath they labeled me a "selfish rebel".
I hated that they felt that way so I decided to work hard at getting a good job too so I could help support my family while I was away. I thought it would help ease the feeling of abandonment I was putting them through. I thought it would make the "selfish" part disappear. I'm now 23 years old, it’s been 3 years since I left home, and I'm making $38k a year. My parents are well too. We bought a home, and they are currently living in a rented home while the new home is being remodeled. Everyone tells me that’s "fantastic", but I can’t help but swing my head low at times because I have absolutely nothing to show for my hard work other then my family living more comfortably then before. But I thought, "What about me?" I have not been able to travel like most students do because of the financial constraint of supporting myself and two others, I rarely have time to have fun because I'm always working, and night school drains any left over energy I have. What bothers me more is not so much the fact this journey has not been what I expected; it’s the fact that I miss my family dearly despite seeing them once a month. I worry about my family constantly and feel like I'm missing out on valuable family time. I some how feel that I am still being selfish for not spending time with them, and that I'm going to regret it later. I worry about my parents dying while I'm away at college! So much so that it haunts me! How ridiculous is that? I could move back and go to another university that is closer to them, and get the same degree, but I find myself "stuck." I can't move because I feel like I would be giving up what I have worked at, I cant move because I can’t make the same money in the small town that they live in, and I would be giving up that "rebel" status that I've come to embrace, and because I still want that wonderful college experience. But is missing my family to the point where it keeps me up at night, worth finding individuality, making money, and being a rebel etc?
Perhaps my journey ends here; perhaps not experiencing the typical college journey you speak of actually helped my very individuality evolve. Hmm theres a thought? And I emphasize “evolve” because I believe my individuality was there to begin with. My point is this: It’s not the drunkfests you may experience at college, or the endless nights of homework you conquer like a champ, its not the grades you get, or the scholarship you may win, or sorority hazing that determines who you are. Those are just instruments that help your individuality evolve, and there will be many more instruments in life that will help a person evolve. I believe now that a person’s individuality is shaped by family, friends, and life experiences. It’s a community contribution that starts the moment you are born, not the moment you go off to college. If it wasn’t for this journey, I wouldn't be able to say that I'm a hardworking, ambitious, stubborn individual, and believe it. If it wasn’t for me moving away, I wouldn't be able to say to the aspiring student that may read this that I started this journey with my family in mind, and it slowly comes to an end again, with them in mind. No matter where you go, whether you stay close to family or move away, whether you come from a broken family structure or a close knit one, the way you are raised shapes your individuality. Therefore, if you have a choice, choose to believe that there is nothing wrong with staying close to home. It will get you to where you want to go, as long as you don’t run from away from your roots, but embrace it instead.

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Codester

I can definitely see the pros of moving out. But there are always people like me who can't afford to move out-of-state--even with student loans. Sure, student loans make things affordable, but doesn't one also have an obligation to be financially responsible? For example, I am currently entering Graduate School. Now I could go out-of-state and my two years away would cost me roughly $60,000 dollars. Or, I could stay in-state and it would only cost me about $26,000. It seems like a no-brainer to me. Unless anyone here wants to give me some money. I feel I'd love to move out-of-state but I'd also like to be able to live comfortably after I graduate. I can move away after I finish school and not have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it.

That said, I'm still not living with either one of my parents. That would drive me mad--and probably vice-versa. I think it is important for kids to move away when going to college for all of the reasons that have been stated, but not necessarily out-of-state. A simple away from the parents will do.

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