Up, Up, and Away

Why I chose to go out of state for college


Submitted by Brooke Huffman

I toured Boston University in September, 2020, and was absolutely in awe of how beautiful the campus was.

Brooke Huffman, Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Ledger

I’d always known I would leave Missouri when it came time to go to college. As a kid, I expected to be at Princeton or Harvard, well on my way to winning a presidential election. As I grew up, that urge to explore stuck with me, though it was slightly less ambitious than before. My hopes darted from school to school, admiring NYU’s urban appeal, Northwestern’s incredible academics, USC’s everlasting sunshine. I was looking for a school that had national acclaim, somewhere bursting with famous alumni, a place that created stars. It wasn’t until later that I sought out a community.

My first glimpse of “my people” came when I’d attended the Duke Summer Studies program in North Carolina the summer before freshman year. Of course, I had close friends back home, but I’d never felt at ease with a large group of people. I struggled to feel like I was fitting in, but it wasn’t like that at Duke—I’d transformed into this extrovert with the courage to introduce myself to everybody in sight. It’s not that I wasn’t offered that opportunity in Missouri, but it’s hard to feel comfortable in your own skin when you feel like people haven’t changed their perceptions of you since middle school. When surrounded by not only new people, but people that are so similar and supportive, you’re offered a chance to reinvent yourself in the best way possible.

I clung onto this feeling, determined to find a school that I felt understood me, and on the way developed a not so healthy superiority complex regarding people who chose to stay in-state. I had this idea that the only way to be successful was to break outside of your bubble, which is completely untrue, but it only pushed me further to “escape” Missouri. Luckily, I was able to drop this mindset and evaluate schools on merit rather than distance.

The thing is, I’m lucky to be a journalism major living in Missouri, with one of the best journalism schools in the country only an hour and a half away. Mizzou is an incredible university, and when I say I could never see myself going there it has nothing to do with the academics or the students there. I just don’t think I’m the type of person that could thrive there—I’m not very agreeable, I get anxious much too easily, and cheering on athletics has always been the last thing on my mind. It just didn’t feel right to me, I didn’t feel like it was where I was meant to be.

I found my dream school by coincidence—they sent me an application fee waiver and I applied on a whim. After a little research, I discovered Emerson College (Boston, Massachusetts) was a modern-day artist’s colony, filled to the brim with hippies and activists, and passionate students. I felt that ping, and went absolutely wild when I found out they’d accepted me.

I’m not concerned about being homesick in the usual sense—I don’t think I’ll miss my bed, or my room, or my usual routine—and with technology, it’s impossible to lose touch with the people you care about. I’m going to miss driving around the city with my music absolutely blaring and snuggling my dog after a bad day. I’ll miss picnics at O’Day Park with my friends and making plans for sushi at the last minute. I’ll miss my mom’s chocolate chip cookies and minestrone soup, piled high with parmesan cheese. I mean, I guess I will be a bit homesick actually. Who wouldn’t?

Regardless, I’m finally able to be me, to study the topics I care so much about, and to live in a city I’ve already fallen in love with. I’ve made so many plans and so many friends already: sipping boba in the Boston Commons, movie nights with my potential roommates, and taking a road trip to the coast and swimming in the ocean after dark. I’m genuinely thrilled at the mere idea of it, of the dream I’ve been holding on to since I was 6.

And, I guess, I can still see my dog on holidays.