I am a California girl. I love walks on the beach, wearing shorts in January, cultural acceptance of athleisure wear as commonplace dress, and every restaurant having a vegetarian option. As a result, moving to almost the furthest state possible for at least half a decade came with some concerns. What will the winter be like? Is my body physically capable of handling temperatures below 60°F or above 85°F? What if I didn't find people who liked to hike and go rock climbing? Will I ever eat good Mexican food again?
What then had motivated me to leave the place I’d called home my entire life? I was intrigued by the idea of completely picking up my life and starting fresh in a new place, and the Boston area seemed like as good of a place as any. I had heard so many wonderful things about the culture of the Boston area, such as how young the population is and how walkable and bikeable the city is. I was excited to be in a place that had so much historical significance. And more than anything, I was excited for all the interesting people I would meet and the new ways the MIT environment would challenge me.
My heart was split right down the middle. On the one hand, I was excited for the new life I was beginning, but on the other hand, I was scared to leave the people and places that I had grown to love and the comfort of my surroundings. As I packed up my car to begin my 3,000+ mile drive from California to Massachusetts, I was scared. I couldn't help but feel that I had made a huge mistake. As I drove into Nevada, tears began to collect in my eyes, and Sarah McLachlan music played in the back of my head. I wondered if I had come too far to go back home. I kept telling myself that I had, and I kept nurturing the emotions that had taken me so far from home in the first place: I imagined biking to the MIT campus in the morning and passing hipster coffee shops overflowing with students and young professionals getting their coffee before embarking on a long day. I imagined gazing at the Boston Harbor and playing back the Boston Tea Party in my head on a warm summer day.
As I drove off the Massachusetts turnpike into Cambridge and saw the Boston skyline in the distance, the excitement of beginning my new life temporarily shadowed my fear that I had made a mistake leaving my home. I wanted to explore everything! I walked the freedom trail, which is a self-guided walk through 16 historical sites across Downtown Boston, and was in awe of standing in the places that I had only been able to read about in my childhood history classes. I took long bike rides on the Charles river and through Boston. My new favorite Saturday morning activity from August to October was biking to Haymarket and filling up on fresh fruit and vegetables. I visited the Mapparium in the Mary Baker Eddy Library; as I gazed at the beautiful stained glass globe I was standing in, I thought about all my fears of moving here and how unreasonable they now felt.
After a few months of living in the area, I realized that I had really grown to like Cambridge. I love being able to bike almost everywhere, I love all the hiking not too far outside the city, and I even love the snow and the cold. I couldn’t help but start to feel proud to call the Boston area my home. This is not to say that I do not sometimes miss California: as I said, I will always be a California girl. So, when I do start to feel a little homesick, I take a walk on the beach, meet up with some of my old friends who have also ended up in the area and reminisce, or visit an excellent Mexican restaurant down the street from where I work.
I understand how scary it is to move away from a place that you hold dear to your heart. But don’t let that fear keep you from moving to a new place and exploring everything there is to offer. As I have learned, Boston has so much that makes it unique; with an open mind, you might just come to love the area for that alone. But if that is not enough to convince you, then there will undoubtedly be something in the area that will remind you of home when you need it.