Over the last few days I’ve struggled with precisely what I would like to say in this blogpost. Recently I found out that one of my young cousins is not entirely happy at Michigan State. In fact, she is considering transferring. My heart breaks for her because I have been there. She is considering leaving MSU because most of her friends are attending another university. After thinking about it for half a second, I realized that I had once been in her shoes. I remember all too well what it feels like to feel so alone among tens of thousands of students. Unfortunately, I was so far along in my programs at MSU that transferring would have been extremely unrealistic. Add to the fact that the people I wanted to be with most were in Austin, Texas, it was not a good situation. I admit that I fought back tears as I left Austin. Somehow, I made it through the last year and a half at MSU, even though it lead me to make the worst mistake of my life thus far: my ex.
When I originally decided to leave Michigan State to complete an internship, a full year of study abroad through MSU, and then a six month co-op in Austin, Texas, I never once considered how it would affect my friendships. I left MSU in May 2001 and didn’t return until January 2003. When I returned, I was not prepared for how difficult it would be to readjust to campus life in East Lansing. I wasn’t prepared for the deep loneliness that set in. In making the decision to follow my dreams of beginning my career in supply chain management and completing two separate semester long study abroad programs, I lost most, if not all, of the friends I had made my first two years at Michigan State. It also strained the few relationships I had maintained from high school. In fact, one of my best high school friends married while I was in Spain. She asked me to be in her wedding, and frankly, our relationship was never really the same once I was unable to do so.
All of the separate programs I participated in were wonderful, and each new experience brought a new set of friends. Yet, it wasn’t until those last three months in Austin (September – December 2002) that I felt truly at home and truly happy. Then it was time to go home and return to MSU. I can finally admit to myself that I was deeply unhappy my last year and a half on campus. As I admit that to myself, what would have been the solution? I had to finish my degrees. I can’t imagine how I would have had to upend my life if I had decided to permanently move to Austin and transfer to the University of Texas. At the same time, my deep unhappiness lead me to a romantic relationship that was entirely wrong from the beginning. There just wasn’t an easy answer.
It is for that reason that I wouldn’t want to give advice to anyone in a similar situation. There are trade-offs for everything. I can’t go back and change the past. My education certainly isn’t wasted, even though I am not working in supply chain. As much as it pains me that I lost so many friendships when I decided to pursue all that I did, I do not regret one single experience I had at Michigan State. All of those experiences made me the person I am today. To all of those 20-somethings facing these type of decisions, best of luck.