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Don’t Be Afraid of Moving Far From Home

By McKenna E. McKrell, Crimson Opinion Writer
McKenna E. McKrell ’26, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Pennypacker Hall.

It was around this time last year that I had gotten back all of my college acceptances, and began to come to terms with the reality of leaving behind my friends and family in northern California to attend Harvard. For months I had claimed that moving far from home didn’t scare me, but once the decision was made, the first instances of doubt quickly crept in.

Long, expensive travel days to and from Visitas opened my eyes to the fact that if I moved across the country, my family and friends would not often be able to visit me. The reprieve of a weekend trip home would be wholly impractical. And as the summer before my first year progressed, more reasons for doubt crept in: Moving my belongings across the country became a logistical nightmare, and the reality of not personally knowing anyone else attending Harvard set in.

What had I gotten myself into?

This uncertainty left me seeking reassurance, but in the wake of the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding my acceptance, I was scared to voice these doubts. To high school seniors wondering whether moving far away for school is a good idea, I’m here to offer you that reassurance I once sought.

It’s been about eight months since I moved, and while I miss my favorite coffee shop and getting to pet my dog, there have been a number of unexpected joys from moving thousands of miles away from home.

At Harvard, for the first time in many years, I had the chance to make an entirely new set of friends. There was no petty drama of “cutting people off” or “dropping” familiar faces — I was in a new place, surrounded by entirely new people. Losing the built-in companionship of family forced me to totally reorient my everyday interactions and surround myself with friends that supported me the same way.

If you’re scared to leave people behind, a daily walk across campus becomes an opportunity for hometown gossip, and with nobody local around to overhear, you can fearlessly drop first and last names. In other words: I’ve gotten good at talking on the phone. The distance will reveal who from home you can live without, and who you can’t. Then, when term breaks come around, you can make time for the people who really matter. Without the bristling caused by everyday interactions, conflict dwindles and reunions tend to be sweet and nostalgic.

The time difference from Massachusetts to California means that I can wake up late and go to bed late, and my family will idyllically trail three hours behind me. I often find myself on the phone with them after I’ve stayed up finishing an assignment; it’s midnight here, but it’s only 9 p.m. back home, and not even my 12-year-old brother has been sent to bed.

Also, nobody here has to know what activities I did in high school, so there’s no social pressure keeping me from making changes and trying new things. I’ve made big changes — like some friends I’ve made here, I no longer run competitively as I did in high school — but making little changes can be refreshing too. I could have picked a brand new favorite color upon arriving at Harvard, and instead of my childhood best friend questioning when I swayed from blue to green, everyone here would have just smiled and said okay to this revolutionary new answer.

As the incoming class of 2027 continues to scour informational pages, make pro-con lists, and travel for admitted students days like Visitas in the lead up to acceptance deadlines, I want to offer assurance that distance from home is a factor worth embracing, not cowering away from. As you prepare to move away, you’ll shove your belongings into oversized Ikea zipper bags, ship dorm supplies you ordered online to your brand-new mailing address, and relish the opportunity to reinvent your life: yourself, your friends, your daily routine.

A fresh start, newfound independence, and a potential reputation rebrand all feel like cliché reasons to move away, but don’t dismiss them: Let yourself explore and rediscover.

The opportunity to move away is a privilege, and if you do have that choice, I urge you to consider taking it. Move across the country, move across the world, and I have a feeling you’ll find your own reasons to be grateful you did.

McKenna E. McKrell ’26, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Pennypacker Hall.

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