Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The long winding road between two small towns

A few weeks ago as I drove back for my eighth and final semester at Bloomsburg University, it reminded me of the days when Bloomsburg was just a possibility. Of when the buildings and pathways I know so well now were just photos to me. I wondered what my life here would turn out to be, and I never would have imagined the amount of growth I would endure and how many people would become family to me.

My story of where I’d go to college wasn’t one where the whole family had attended or where I’d known forever this is where I’d be moving to. Instead senior year rolled around, and I applied to 11 universities because that’s how much I didn’t know where I wanted to be.

Picking a college wasn’t easy. But when you know what you want, just not where it helps.

My criteria was simple:
  • four-year public college
  • affordable
  • a well put together campus
  • enough students to escape the high school feel
Bloomsburg checked all of those boxes for me.

With only one problem — it’s eight hours from my small ski town in northern Vermont. The photos of campus looked nice, but I couldn’t get a feel for the campus through that. I couldn’t possibly attend a college before seeing it and feeling it.

Which is when my best friend Ema and I decided on a February day senior year to hop in the car and take a quick weekend road trip down to Bloomsburg, Pa. We hadn’t driven this far on our own before, but it seemed like a fun opportunity for us to spend some time together before graduation.

It feels as if Ema and I grew up together, becoming best friends at 13. We split apart to different schools when ninth grade rolled around, but we never stopped being each others go-to. We spent the majority of senior year dipping out of our free blocks to drive an hour (one way) to our favorite restaurant Moe’s — in an effort to make it back to school by three for lacrosse practice. We were always ready to jump at something to do, so this trip didn’t take much thought.

So, we loaded up in her old beat up Range Rover and made our way which turned out to be just the beginning of my long trips down to Bloomsburg University — now four years ago. Being able to walk on campus and drive through town made it real for me. I knew I loved Bloomsburg after that initial trip — the picturesque campus, the cute downtown restaurants, and the small-town atmosphere that made me feel right at home.

I come from a very small town. The list of things to do with my friends is very short. I didn’t always love it, but I was comfortable with it. So even though Bloomsburg was eight hours from home, and I didn’t know a single soul coming in, it felt similar to home. And as the person I was then, comfortable was something I wanted to stick with.

So Bloomsburg University it was.

— Drew Hess, a senior communication studies major and emergent media minor, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications. She is a native of Stowe, Vt., a town of 4,472 people in northern Vermont known for its trails and ski slopes.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

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