By Alexandra Dupuis
This past weekend, I made the long, long drive from Farmington all the way to Philadelphia. I drove into Springfield, MA where I met up with my mom and sister and we drove the rest of the way to Philly together. The point of the trip was to go to my brother’s fiancée’s wedding shower, as they are getting married in September. The drive was…long. For me, it was a total of eleven hours of driving within a twenty-four hour period. The trip between Springfield and Philadelphia was almost new to me. The last time I had made that drive was quite a few years ago, when I was still in high school. That was the first time I fell in love with Philly.
The second time I fell in love with Philadelphia was last weekend. Philadelphia is beautiful. It’s historical and diverse and filled with an overwhelming mix of different cultures. There’s a level of friendliness you can’t even find in Maine. It’s the city of brotherly love (and over-eating). There’s farmers markets, the Italian Market, the Reading Terminal Market; food is everywhere and it’s an integral part of Philly culture (the best part). The buildings are old and lovely; brick and brownstone and tall row houses. There’s greenery; vines crawling up houses, courtyards filled with trees, bushes, flowers. There are parks where people walk their dogs and sit on benches at dusk to watch the fireflies. There’s cheap, delicious food on every block. On every corner there’s something new to discover, a psychic who does palm readings for $5, a jazz band playing in an ice cream shop, narrow streets lined with fairy lights that glow late into 80 degree evenings. Philadelphia is beautiful.
It’s trips like these that remind me that my heart belongs to the city. You might wonder, why then, I chose to go to school in one of the most rural places I could have gotten my hands on and, I ask myself the same thing. I long to live in the city. Taco Bell should not close at 9PM. That’s a fact. My big Post Graduation Dream is to land a good enough job in [insert big city here] find a good enough apartment for me and my gassy, elderly dog. It sounds so glamorous, I know.
So, again you ask, why am I not living it up right now and taking advantage of my college years by going to school in a city?Originally, when I was a senior in high school, I had applied to all sorts of schools. Famous schools. One in Boston, one in Philadelphia, and one in New York City. I was dreaming big. In the end, however, I ended up commuting to the local university for two years before transferring to UMF. I moved as far away from all the cool cities as I possibly could. I would say I regret it, but in truth I don’t. I’ve made some amazing friends and have gotten my over-achieving little hands on more opportunities in one semester here than two years at the local-schmocal university. I knew UMF was the right fit for me. And I thought that it being rural would be good for me too. I was desperate to escape Springfield and I thought that the polar opposite would be the answer. And it wasn’t. But that’s okay. It’s something I get to say I did. I forced myself out of my comfort zone.
That’s the most important part. I know that actually living every single day in a city will force me out of my comfort zone too and I look forward to that. There is no more important lesson than forcing yourself to do something that seems scary and exciting all at once. This is an opportunity I can tell everyone I had. I lived in a small, diverse city, then a rural college town, and soon (hopefully) a major city. How cool is that? What I’m saying is, always go for the choice that forces you out of your comfort zone. Leave your home state for a few years, take a trip you never thought you would take, go see a movie you wouldn’t normally see, wear a daring outfit. I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard someone preaching about this and it won’t be the last. I’m doing it now because I finally understand where those other people are coming from. Taking a flying leap out of your comfort zone is so, so important.