Am I too bubbly for NYC?

I moved from the Midwest to New York for college and I’m finding it hard to fit in. Should I give up my scholarship and move back to be with my boyfriend?

Possibly, says our elder, but not yet. Give it time.

Dear EWC

I just moved across the United States from Minnesota to New York for college. I am a student-athlete so that is how I had gotten in contact with the school I am currently attending now. It’s a division 2 school so I received a sports scholarship as well as a large academic scholarship. My time here so far has been awful. It has only been a month but I am not having a good time at all. I am living with family and commuting from their house so it’s been really hard to make friends. I have been trying really hard by talking to students in class, talking to teammates at practices and even attending some club meetings. The general social culture here is a lot different than the way people are in the Midwest. It’s common here to come off as harsh and rude. I have even been told by some teammates that I am hard to get used to due to my extreme friendliness and my bubbly personality.

Not only is the social culture hard for me to be around but also my classes seem rather easy for me and I do not feel challenged at all. When I was being recruited by the coach she made the school seem prestigious and to have a good reputation. I have not seen either of those characteristics. The students here don’t care about their studies and are rude to the professors. When people I interact with at the grocery store or at work ask about where I’m going to school and I tell them, they say that they feel sorry for me and that I should transfer as soon as I can. Also, to add on to that, my coach and assistant coach quit the week before school started so the captains have been running the team for the past four weeks. The captains also changed the practice time, so I have 13+ hour days most of the time due to my class schedule being built around the original practice time — most of my classes are at night.

My boyfriend of three years was also planning on going to school in New York but decided to attend a school in Minnesota instead. Long-distance hasn’t been a huge problem for us because, throughout our whole relationship, we had already been an hour away from each other. I love the school he’s attending but I have never been close to him all the time every day so that scares me a lot, but I also think that because we have been so far apart for such a long time, that it would be a different feel if I went to his school. Most colleges don’t have the sport I play in Minnesota and if they do it’s D-3 or club so I wouldn’t get any athletic scholarship money. I guess what I’m confused about is the question: Is the scholarship money worth the compromise of my happiness and comfort? And if not, should I attend the same college as my boyfriend or is that a bad idea?

Folk replies

Let’s tackle the easier question first: Of course, you can attend the same school as your boyfriend! Lots of couples wind up doing just this because school is where they meet. In fact, my husband and I met at college, and we have been married now for 51 years. So, if you love the school your bf is attending, I don’t think you have to be the least bit concerned about being too close to him. Just because you and he would share a campus, after all, doesn’t mean you’d have to be together 24/7. The two of you can still have your own classes, your own friends, your own activities, and your own free time.

The much harder question is should you give up a substantial scholarship as well as playing the sport you love to go into debt in order to transfer to a college in Minnesota. The answer to this question is: maybe…but not yet.
I know you’re feeling homesick, but that’s pretty normal. You’ve only been at your new school for a month now, and getting adjusted to any new situation takes time. Even if you had gone to a college in Minnesota instead of New York, after only a month, you would still adjusting to the changes in your circumstances: a new coach, a new team, new classes, a new living arrangement, etc. Since you are living with family, you are not on your own; you have people who care about you and can support you through this tough adjustment period. My advice, therefore, is to give yourself more time to get acclimated. Give the coaching situation at your school time to sort out; give your bubbly personality time to work its friend-making magic. Sure, the culture in the East is different than it is in the Midwest, but a large part of the college experience is about learning to stretch ourselves beyond our old familiar comfort zones. That said, you shouldn’t have to spend four years being miserable. So, if after a year, you still feel the same way you do now, then you can think about transferring.

It’s no small thing to give up scholarship money though. Or to give up competitively playing the sport you trained your whole life for. If you choose to attend a college that doesn’t have your sport, will you miss playing it? You’re obviously very good at it or you wouldn’t have gotten an athletic scholarship for it at a D-2 school, and if you quit playing it competitively, it’s possible that someday you’ll regret it.
Still, giving up your athletic scholarship is one thing; giving up your academic scholarship is quite another. It is not clear to me from your letter if your academic scholarship is transferable or not (if it comes from an independent source other than the college you are attending). If it is not transferable and you change schools, you could potentially be looking at a whole mountain of debt after you graduate. The way things stand now, you are set to graduate with little to no debt hanging over your head and a future that is free and clear, so that is something you might want to consider before transferring.

Your happiness and comfort are absolutely important. And I am certainly not suggesting that you remain in a situation that makes you miserable just for the money. What I am suggesting though is that you give the school you are at now a fair chance. Once a new coach is hired and you make friends with some of your teammates and classmates, things there may seem better to you. As to the whole culture issue, I’ve got to tell you: I had to make the same adjustment you are making, but in reverse. I’m a native New York City gal who moved to the Midwest for college, and I gotta tell you that I had a hard time making friends at first because people thought I was being harsh and abrasive when I thought I was being funny and friendly. In other words, it’s all about style and perception. People are people everywhere, but they all have different ways of being friendly. Once your classmates get used to your Midwestern warmth, trust me: they are going to love it.

I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back if you can to let me know how you are doing. I will be pulling for you.

Letter #: 447455
Category: School

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