Because I’ve called Silicon Valley home for the past 18 years of my life, I thought that leaving the Bay Area for college would provide a refreshing change of pace. Accepting the ostensible fact that Stanford was no more than a distant dream, I set my sites on universities across the country, or at least in a drastically different part of California. I was, of course, willing to make an exception when I was admitted to Stanford (to my astonishment), but it required me to shift all of my expectations and come to terms with the fact that I’d be driving only 30 minutes to school on move-in day. Luckily, I’ve since come to realize that living so close to home has its fair share of perks.
First of all, the mere practicality of living a drive away from home goes without mentioning. I was able to buy everything I needed for my room weeks before arriving on campus –— unlike my eastbound friends, who scrambled to purchase bedding and room decor from an arbitrary Target in New York two days before moving in. If I happened to forget a few things from home (which I did), there was no need to worry; my parents could easily run home and back in about an hour. I didn’t need to pack nearly as much as I would if I were heading across the country, and that’s not to mention the money we saved driving as opposed to flying to Stanford. Being in the same time zone as my family is also a plus; if my sister ever needs late-night help with homework, she can call me without waking me up at an ungodly hour.
But the benefits of living close to home go beyond the functional. The fact that I can easily go home for a weekend if I want to was pretty comforting during my first week here. While I rarely took advantage of that opportunity, it was a consoling reality, and it honestly made me want to stay at Stanford more — because what would I lose by waiting another week until I saw my parents? Living close to home certainly doesn’t mean I’m home all the time; instead, it’s a perfect compromise that allows me to remain close with my family without sacrificing my social life at Stanford.
Some would argue that living so close to home would encourage you to take your family’s proximity for granted. After all, it’s much easier to miss your parents when you’re far away, which makes the time you do spend together all the more meaningful. But my family, being the respectful and loving people they are, have kept their distance. It’s wonderful that my parents have respected my boundaries and given me the space to pave my own life here, because it makes the time I do spend with them much more precious.
I completely understand the urge to get away from your hometown and try something new, but I think it’s unfair to dismiss the alternative out of hand. Despite being so close to home, Stanford truly feels like a different world, and I couldn’t be happier with the choices I’ve made.
Contact Eden Gibson at eden3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.