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College has arguably been the most stressful, yet most rewarding experience I have ever had in my life. Why do you ask? The answer is friendship. College is primarily the time in people’s lives where they figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives, who they want to be, and one other thing, who they want to have in their lives.

When applying for schools, I wanted distance, adventure, “the real deal”. I did not want mom and dad able to come to my rescue; I wanted to be the source of my success. However, one very difficult challenge with living in new regions of the country outside of your own is the people you will meet, the friends you choose to make.

I was born and raised in a decently sized suburb just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. When I applied for colleges, I focused mainly on the south. Making friends in the south that possessed that true “southern hospitality” and selflessness seemed like a great idea. Something about being in the south made me think I’d fit in down there a lot better.

After applying to 5 different universities, the good fit in the south rejected and the other 2 ended up not being the right school.  If I couldn’t have the region I wanted , I could still aspire towards my goal of true independence. I was accepted to the University of New Haven in Connecticut. To be honest, one of the first things I did was Google how far away I’d be. It was no sunshine state or southern flair, but it was somewhere far.

They say you shouldn’t stereotype, but as a general rule people’s personalities are in fact different dependent on where they grew up. The American Psychology Association states in an article written October 17, 2013. “People in the north-central Great Plains and the South tend to be conventional and friendly, those in the Western and Eastern seaboards lean toward being mostly relaxed and creative, while New Englanders and Mid-Atlantic residents are prone to being more temperamental and uninhibited, according to a study published online by APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”.

Perhaps it is just college in general, but I believe that where you attend college will greatly affect the type of people that you meet. While it is important to note that not everyone fits into the mold of his or her region based on that study, sometimes it is found to be accurate. I can say after about 3 years, I have finally made a few good friends. However, it was no easy process. Schoolwork is hard enough without the challenge of making friends.

So, when you choose to venture to a region outside of your comfort zone, be prepared to make changes about your self. You might find that they are actually beneficial in the long run. Personally, I became a little more selfish, a little more cautious and aware as to what I disclose to people, but ,most importantly, a lot more understanding and accepting of people unlike myself.

I might walk out of here with a few extra grey hairs on my head, a couple extra pimples, but I will have a better perspective and increased tolerance of the people around me as well as myself.

Have you ever experienced a difficulty in making friends in college?

photo credit: davidrossharris via photopin cc