I don't think I've made it much of a secret that leaving the four year college I attended for a year and a half was very, very difficult, and that I struggled with that for a long time. It was tough moving on. I floundered for about a year and a half - trying to figure out what I wanted to do, not really wanting to do anything or go anywhere with my life and having no motivation to move out of the job that I did enjoy, but was basically a dead end thing.
It got to the point where my mom and dad told me that I had to do something with my life - get a new job, go back to school, whatever. Just, something. They suggested classes at the local community college, and my younger sister had decided to go there so I figured I might as well try it and two weeks before the start of the fall semester, we applied and signed up for classes. I'd finished all my gen eds at the first school, so I knew I should pick out a major going in. Again, there wasn't really anything I wanted to do with my life so I scrolled through the list of majors on the website to see what my options were.
I came across the title "Meeting and Special Event Planning" and thought "well this looks cool". I clicked on it, skimmed the titles of the classes I would need to take and what I saw sparked my interest, so I signed up. Whenever people asked me why I picked that, I made up some story about my family always having parties, but honestly the truth is that it looked a lot more interesting than any of the other options out there so I figured, what the heck, I'll do that.
I went through my first year there... and I quickly found that I really liked my classes. My teacher was super laid back, our classes were very informal and fun, and I learned a lot. Even still.... I kept myself detached from the school and couldn't help but make comparisons between that and my first school. I went there for classes, and that was it, and I had zero interest in being a part of any kind of community and I was a little embarrassed when people asked where I went to school and I answered with "just the community college" - followed up by a quick explanation as to why I was there, and not a four year school.
And then, this May, the class I would have been in graduated from my first college, and I found I was able to start letting it go. Going back to visit the town where that school is got easier, I was able to stop making comparisons, and when this school year came around, I was really excited to get back to my classes.
Over the summer, I started working at a hotel and going back into class it was awesome to learn about something and then go to work and see it in action. The teacher I've had my classes with this year has been the best teacher I think I have ever had (except of course for you, mom!), and she has made me want to work hard and pulled me fully into the hospitality industry to where I never want to leave it. I know my classmates in my program a little better now, and I feel more experienced, more at home.
I was walking to class last week and looking out our huge floor to ceiling windows at the snow as it was falling in the little wooded area at the center of campus, and I was surprised with the thought "I love this school."
This past Monday, I helped to staff "The Festival of the Vines" at our local theater, an honor the hospitality students get every year. It was an absolute blast, and afterwards we all went out to a sports bar for food and drinks and I enjoyed fantastic, interesting and deep conversation with my teachers and classmates and as I left, I realized that I felt more a part of this community of students than I ever had with any group I'd been a part of back at my old school. It felt like home.
Somehow, without realizing it, I'd slipped from feeling detached to feeling I belonged.