Dear Kutztown University,
You were new, exciting, and terrifying all at once. I was 17 years old when I woke up in my cozy house (where I had only resided since the day I was born) and looked into the bathroom mirror to wash my face before I began to cry. It was college move in day, and I couldn’t have been more scared.
I talked the whole car ride up, after saying goodbye to my high school boyfriend, who wouldn’t last much past the first month of you. It seemed easier to fill the air with insignificant babble than to say what I was actually feeling; that I was horrified of moving two hours away, which at the time felt like a lot, and that this was quite possibly just one big, giant mistake.
After arriving to the dreaded, un-air-conditioned dorms, carrying box after box of useless crap up three flights of stairs and pretending that I was going to be okay, my parents left, leaving me officially out on my own for the first time in forever. I had no idea what your new, small town and the next four years would have in store for me, but I was suddenly the most excited I had ever been in my life.
I never listened when people told me how quickly you would come and go. My first love, you actually might have been. You gave me, the moody, unconvinced little girl that I was, hope for a career, a passion. I learned that it was okay to make new friends, it was okay to lose old ones, and the ones that mattered would always be around. I found out what it was like to live with four other girls at a time, and how outraged you could feel over an increasing pile of dishes. I came to realize how much a two hour call to home can really mean, even when it was just supposed to be a quick hello. I grasped the fact that it’s okay to live off of ramen, just don’t tell your Italian mother. I met new people, I tried new things, and I loved your campus classroom walls and the family-owned shops in town more than you know. You could sometimes feel like my own personal hell, but mostly you just felt like home. I can never put into words all that you gave me.
I fell in love in Bonner Hall, I fell out of that same love in 330 W. Main Street three years later. I met two girls I couldn’t stand freshman year. I managed to sneak into Shorty’s by the time I was a sophomore. I cried my eyes out hugging and singing with those same two girls, who easily became my best friends, on the same dance floor the night of graduation. I loved when I came to realize it was worth being involved in campus organizations and clubs for reasons beyond putting them on my resume. I got my first D before switching my major, which I still need to thank that professor for, as it was undoubtedly the best decision I ever made in my life.
I unsurprisingly made mistakes, amazed myself when I made right choices, and over time, I learned right from wrong. I learned it’s more important to sit with someone who’s alone at lunch or in the classroom than to miss out on making a new friend. I found personal dignity in realizing that one bad grade didn’t decide my future, as how one good grade would not do so either. I learned that life wasn’t always easy, or fair, but you would always point me in the direction I needed to go.
When it came time to leave, I wouldn’t admit that I was just as terrified as I was on the day I moved in four years prior. I acted like I was over this point in my life, that I was ready to go and to move on. I told everyone I was glad it was over, but between you and me, I didn’t 100% believe my own words. As I write this, it’s almost exactly four years to the date that I moved in to that hot, brick building next to the dining hall, and only three short months since graduation. I’ll be the first one to admit that the same tears fell from my eyes on my very first move-in day as they did on my last move-out. The same feelings arose, and the same questions were asked, but indisputably, you were my most favorite life choice I had the pleasure of making. My first big adventure and my least favorite goodbye.
I know you’re just a cluster of buildings with fields and trees in between, with a small town just down the road, but to your students, you’re more. A perfect, wonderful little memory for me, a big, unknown world awaiting for new, scared incoming freshman, and a place past and present students will always adore to call home.
I’ll see you at Homecoming,