We Can Go Where We Want to Go, Say What We Want to Say, And Do What We Want to Do*

Lately, I’ve been asked a lot on why I chose Illinois. My decision to go to Illinois was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Sure, I would’ve been ecstatic if I had gone to a California university, but at the end of the day, I stand behind my choice to attend Illinois and ultimately, why I did not transfer back to California. I, by no means, ever thought I would end up at Illinois, or really any other out-of-state school for that matter. I applied because my Dad told me to (pretty sure it was to live vicariously through me since he had wanted to go there for his Masters in EE–which he didn’t tell me about until after I had decided where to go). I was all “sure Dad, I’ll apply there, but I’m not going to Illinois.” Joke’s on me!

Dad took me to visit Champaign about a month before the UC school decisions had come out and even then I was skeptical of me choosing an out-of-state school. Even after I felt how right being on the Illinois campus is. Even after I read about how awesome Orange Krush and Illini Pride are. Even after I saw how amazing of a city Chicago and driving on Lake Shore Drive alongside Lake Michigan are. Even after I put down my housing deposit ahead of the final UC decisions. I still had my doubts.

My gut was so much more sure about my decision even before I was. Ultimately, the fact that Illinois had a solid business undergraduate program, Division I Big Ten athletics, and me knowing that by giving up on Illinois would be like giving up an opportunity to have a very unique college experience, is what swayed me to go and eventually stay.

Even at one and a half years into undergraduate, I entertained the thought of possibly transferring schools, but it was also around that time that I really stopped missing California so much and began to really enjoy Illinois and find myself. The great thing about going to a school where almost no one in your high school went is that you don’t end up just hanging out with just the people you were friends with for the first 12 years of school. You get to figure out the friends that you want to hang out with. I bounced around a couple different groups of people before I found my roommates, Illini Pride Exec Board, and the Word of the Day boys. Even though I was only in Illinois for six years, a lot of those friendships have already endured longer than a lot of my friendships from home. I’m glad I stuck it through in Illinois. If I had left, I never would’ve experienced winning at the Horseshoe, playing in the Rose Bowl, calling Chicago home, and I most definitely would have never met and established some of the close friendships I have today.

Everyone in California always talks about awesome living in California is. Oh really now? HOW DO YOU KNOW? Most have never stepped outside of the California bubble. I respect their decisions on staying in-state, but please don’t try to convince me why LA or SF is better than Chicago, or any other city out there because you’ve never even lived outside of this state. I love California, but I love knowing I pick to stay in California not because it’s all I’ve ever known, but because I have already lived in another state and I want to settle down in California over anywhere else.

*Grouplove – “Chloe”

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