I knew that I was never meant for small towns. I had lived in one my entire life, and when I had the chance to experience living in a big city... I jumped on it. When I applied to college during my senior year of high school, I applied to universities in two major cities: New York and Los Angeles. I applied to an English Program at the New School in the heart of Manhattan, and I was accepted. However, I had my heart set on Los Angeles. In hindsight, I think I was just not ready to leave California. So, I chose a university in a suburb 34 minutes out of downtown Los Angeles (on a good traffic day). 

My first year was spent at the University of La Verne. It is a very small school, and empty most of the time on weekends. 32 miles from downtown Los Angeles, I thought it would be an exciting school to spend my four years as a college student. I was wrong. Shortly after classes began in the Fall, I realized that this was just not my school. I was drawn to something much bigger. It was not my ideal first year college experience. It was in a small town, which was what I was trying to get away from. It was tiny, and a majority of students were commuters. It was extremely reminiscent of home, which would be good if I was looking for a transition. But I wasn't. I craved to feel displaced, and I wanted my surroundings to be new and unfamiliar. 

One thing I learned during my first year at university is that if you are not happy, you have all the power (and all the will) to change that. I believe that everyone is in charge of their own happiness. For a semester or two, I forgot that.

I learned that college is the ideal time to take control of yourself. I also realized the importance of being selfish. I know that sounds a little counterintuitive to happiness, but hear me out. 

During my first semester, I was so worried about pleasing others. I lost sight of who I was because I was so worried about who I was supposed to be. But once I realized that although others may be happy (and comfortable) with the university I was at, I was not happy. And if I wanted to become happy, I would have to change my surroundings. 

Moving from the Northern California to Southern California was a drastic change in itself. I knew close to no one, and was unaware of my surroundings (which I later found out was nothing too exciting). But I did not miss home. I missed something I never had. I missed being at a completely different place than I was. I missed being somewhere that I have never even been before.

I began filling out college applications all over again. Honestly, it was a lot to handle on top of school work, but I did it. I earned really great grades my first year at University of La Verne, while also applying to universities. I applied to three colleges in the Los Angeles area. Loyola Marymount University being one of them. I received my acceptance letter from them first, and it was such a relief. 

I always knew what I wanted to do in my life... Or at least I had some idea. However, I lost my ambition during my first semester in college. Going from knowing yourself to becoming a stranger to yourself is scary- to say the least. I became so uninspired. I found myself slowly giving up my hobbies that I did almost subconsciously for my entire life. I slowly stopped reading books, I stopped finding new music, and I even stopped writing. Maybe it was a mixture of not having enough time to do all the things I had always done while also not caring enough to stay committed to my passions. But forgetting to be selfish, by neglecting up my self-proclaimed artistic habits, I actually lost a part of myself- a huge part of myself. I was not as driven as before, and I was not as inspired as I was before college. Because I was not happy with my surroundings, it was hard for me to me to succeed in being true to myself.

But after receiving my first transfer acceptance, I felt that excitement come back again. I will be attending Loyola Marymount University this coming academic year, and I could not be any happier. Located in Marina del Rey, LMU is so close to everything. Being 15 minutes from Santa Monica, and 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, I have endless possibilities to hop on the metro and go explore the city. 

I plan on writing more this coming year, and blogging more in the process. 

Feel free to read my blog: meninamagazine.wordpress.com

-Alicia

Published by Alicia de Mello