Leaving sunny Ventura for faraway D.C.

Otto Tielemans

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Otto will be going to George Washington University in Washington D.C. in the fall for college. Credit: Otto Tielemans/The Foothill Dragon Press

Otto will be going to George Washington University in Washington D.C. in the fall for college. Credit: Otto Tielemans/The Foothill Dragon Press

February 7, 2013 is a date that will live in glory. I was accepted Early Decision to George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The events that happened after I opened my acceptance email are a blur to me; my entire body practically overdosed on the adrenaline and joy that came from receiving the fantastic news. The few details I can remember include jumping up and down screaming, running in the middle of the street, rushing back inside and doing the Charleston for a good two minutes in the middle of my living room.

As the days rolled by and the congratulations poured in from friends, family and faculty members, the idea of living and studying in the District of Columbia finally began to sink in. Every time I thought about it, the images of the golden statues and national monuments I saw on my first trip to the capital flashed in my mind.

Then it hit me.

Two hours before my alarm clock was set to sound, I spontaneously woke up and lay in bed thinking about how just three months after graduation I will be leaving everything I know to live somewhere completely foreign to me, somewhere 2,700 miles away from sunny Ventura.

I will not be able to go to the Chinese restaurant where everyone — even the dishwasher — knows my name. Nor will I be able to meet up with my good friends or see my parents face-to-face when I feel like it. 

This sudden realization that I will be leaving everything I know to pursue a higher education on the other side of the country made me instantly appreciate everything that I used to look over or dislike about Ventura. The obnoxious, perpetual sunny climate has transformed itself from a slight bothering factor to a treasure that I adore and appreciate. The homey feeling that the Ventura community radiates is no longer smothering to me, but comforting.

In addition to the pre-home sickness that I am beginning to experience, the cost of maintaining a slightly more elevated life than a 1920s Russian peasant in one of the most expensive cities in country adds to the stress of leaving normality. I jokingly tell my friends and family that I should become a part-time congressman so that I will at least be able to cover the airfare when traveling from D.C. to Ventura during school breaks and holidays.

The point of it all is that even though you might be longing to get out of town and begin a new life at your dream college, you might not have yet embraced the entire picture just yet. Bill-free living, friends, and family are all things which have become such a “normal” part of our lives that we will not see how much we appreciate them and take them for granted until the days of enjoying them are numbered.

I realize that this foolishness will soon disappear as I begin to make friends and start a new life filled with excitement, joy, and adventure in the most politically active city in the country. I also realize that I can’t stay in one place forever and that in order to continue my scholarly and individual development I have to begin anew in a place where I can find my own way in life. As much as I would like to embrace this good news with nothing but utter excitement I cannot help but feel a sliver of fear in beginning my life in a land far, far away.  

So to all of those senior who have applied to college and are eagerly waiting to receive that “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted” letter so you can pack up and leave, remember that you can spend your entire life being an adult and starting anew, but there are only so many years that you are blessed with to live a particularly stress-free life as a, dare I say, child. 

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