New Place Like Home

Some students who travel far away for college can say, “There’s no place like home,” but when reminiscing on her transition, first year student Jeanne Marie shares how DC has transformed into her ‘new place like home.’ Read as she shares exactly what it’s like to be a local student at Catholic.

Catholic University is closer to my house than the high school I attended. I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, and braved D.C. traffic every day for four years as part of the morning commute to my high school in Georgetown.

When it came time for college decisions, most of my friends went away– the one closest to D.C. is in New York City; beyond that they’re in Ithaca, Boston, and Scotland. Upon mentioning CUA, one of the first comments I got was, “You’ll be so close to home.” And then, either: “It will be great to be near your family,” or, “Yikes, aren’t you worried about that?”

To the first, “Yes,” and to the second, “Not at all.” I’m the second of six kids, many of whom are hitting important landmarks in the coming years and it is such a blessing to continue participating in their lives knowing that I’m only a Metro ride away. (Plus, wardrobe transitions have been a breeze. D.C.’s Jekyll-and-Hyde weather is no match for my ability to swap sundresses for coats on a weekly basis.)

As far as not being worried, my parents have always promised that if any of my siblings attended college nearby, they would always be invited to attend family dinners/ events but not obligated to do so. Luckily, I had the chance to watch my older brother attend another local college first to confirm that my parents kept their word. They gave him the space to create his own college experience and never questioned when he would mysteriously show up for family cookouts with two hampers of dirty laundry. Knowing that attending college close by would not put me under obligation to come home all the time made the decision a no-brainer– I get to go home for dinner every month or so, but knowing that the visits are up to me makes them that much more special.

Additionally, I think there’s a misconception surrounding students that attend college close to home as being homebodies. My independence is precisely why the proximity is such a good fit. The safety net of family close by enables me to take bigger risks with my plans– it afforded me the luxury of applying for unpaid summer internships in D.C. because I can count on housing, and just this past spring break I traveled to Dublin using the money I would have had to spend on flights home had I gone to college farther away. Plus, I have been able to continue building the career network that started with my first high school job.

I have always loved D.C. because of the opportunities for hands-on learning, jobs, and the activism it offers, and I couldn’t think of a better college city than the nation’s capital. Attending CUA has absolutely transformed the city for me: actually living in the city instead of commuting there every day means that it is slowly becoming more of a living room than a backyard. (Also that I no longer have to parallel park.) As comfortable as I feel, every time I venture into the city with new friends I get to fall in love with it all over again.

–Jeanne Marie

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