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Degree vs. Happiness: Transferring for Transformation

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This past week has been an interesting one. If you don't know this about me already, then let me tell you that after two years at New York University, I decided it was in my best interest to transfer to the University of Maryland. I knew I wasn't happy at NYU, and I knew that, unless I took some sort of action, things weren't going to change. Whereas I thought my transferring to UMD meant that I would get to spend more time with my family (something I desperately wanted and perhaps even needed), the way things actually panned out was very different.

A few months into my Junior year (my first year at UMD), my parents moved to Florida. Now, my mother and I constantly argue about this particular subject (so mom, if you're reading this please don't take it personally. Oh, and I love you. A lot.) but my feeling is that, at the time I transferred universities, I really needed my parents. One of my closest friends had tried to commit suicide, I was just starting to make headway in my battle with bulimia, and I was a lost and lonely individual. I get that my parents wanted to move on with their lives (they had just finished dealing with their own issues), but had I known that they were going to pack up and move the second I moved back to my hometown, then I probably wouldn't have transferred…at least not to UMD that is. Nonetheless, if there is something that I have learned over the years, it's that there's no point in dwelling on the past because, let's face it, dwelling on the past won't do diddily squat for your present or your future. That said, I have also learned that if I feel a certain way, regardless of it's level of rationality, I have to honor the fact that that's how I feel.

In response to my transferring universities, I must admit that, to this day, I still feel as though I downgraded myself. I had gotten into NYU, was a double major, and then decided to throw all of that away so that I could move back home to be near mommy and daddy. And then, when mommy and daddy moved, it was really like I had thrown everything away because now I had nothing. I felt as though I was back where I started, only this time, instead of attending a prestigious university, I was at state school. In fact, I think this has a lot to do with why I pushed myself to graduate in three and a half years (with a sh*t ton of excess credits, mind you), because I think in some way, it was my personal way of "making up" for the fact that I had downgraded myself when I transferred. Now, with all of that said, let me back up and tell you the following: by no means do I think that the University of Maryland is a bad school. It's quite the opposite actually.

In comparing the degree of difficulty from my classes at NYU to those I took at UMD, I must tell you, the latter was harder. Then again, perhaps I feel this way because I didn't like the formality of UMD's curriculum. It was rigid, boring, heavy on "busy work," and all in all, very much what one could/would/and should expect from a state school. On the other hand, NYU's curriculum seemed, I don't know, more relavent. It didn't matter that I was pursuing some random double degree (a BA in journalism and a BS in food studies, should you be at all curious). At NYU, the material was predominately taught by adjunct professors who also worked in the industry that they themselves were teaching. They knew what emerging graduates would need to know in order to excel in the modern version of the field at hand. They knew how to eliminate the textbook while feeding you the facts. UMD?…not so much. But enough about college curriculum, and back to what this article was supposed to be about: this week has been an interesting one…for an array of reasons.

This past week, my friends from NYU graduated. This past weekend, my friends from UMD graduated. This past week and weekend, I have not been able to go on Facebook and look at the pictures on my newsfeed without feeling. Yes, just that: "feeling." Sometimes I feel anger—mad at myself for transfering. Other times I feel joy—happy that I was able to grab my life by the horns and get out of a school that, despite providing a great education, left me feeling alone and unheard. And then there are the times I log onto Facebook, I see these photos, and I think: What would have happened had I not transferred? How would my life be different? Well, for starters, I'm almost positive that I wouldn't be the happy girl that I am today. I was lost and lonely at NYU. I might not have loved my time at UMD, but I loved that I was able to find myself, re-connect with my religion ("challah" at my fellow Jews in da hizzy….yeah, I'm so white it's not even funny), and, most importantly, find my way to the BF (who, despite transferring from UMD to NYU—our time at NYU overlapped—I might have otherwise never met).

All in all, I guess you could say that everything ended up falling into place. Yes at times I am still frustrated by my decision to transfer schools, but let's face it: my transferring schools wound up transforming me. Had I stayed at NYU, sure I would have been able to wear that purple gown in Yankee Stadium and walk across the stage in Radio City Music Hall, but I wouldn't have been the "me" that I am today—and in all seriousness, I think I turned out pretty darn well (minus the small ego trip I just sent myself on). And, while my life has not exactly been the journey my elementary school self thought it would be, the truth of the matter is, I wouldn't change a thing…the absurd level of cheesiness in that last line included.

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