How Transferring Changed My Outlook On College and Happiness

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Choosing a college during senior year of high school seems like the biggest and most definite decision of your life. People say college gives you the best four years of your life. College is where you should learn the most, grow the most, laugh the most and love the most. Everyone expects this euphoric experience, but nobody tells you that you might not actually like the school you choose. And no one wants to admit they’re unhappy.

Freshman Year: Like most college freshmen, I entered my first year ready to make friends, party and get involved. Quickly though, I learned I didn’t love my school quite to the extent that I thought I would. But I simply rejected those thoughts and pushed forward claiming my feelings were “just a phase.” Over winter break that year, I sat around with my high school friends who raved about their unbelievable college experiences. That’s when I finally admitted to myself that I felt unhappy with the choice I made. The day before I flew back to my small college in Portland, I called my dad in tears and confessed the words I feared to admit:

“I’m unhappy. I hate my school. I want to transfer. I want to leave.”

Acceptance was the first step. I finally realized that wanting to transfer was okay. I began the process immediately but hesitantly told my friends that I wanted to make a change. I worried for their reactions and that I would lose them after I tried so hard to make them. Luckily, my friends supported me and responded with understanding words like, “Of course I am so sad you might leave, but I just want you to be happy.”

Just like that, with some support and a little bit of bravery, by the end of my freshman year I embarked on my next journey at Tulane University.

Sophomore Year: I expected to find the light at the end of the tunnel, perfection even, as soon as I arrived on Tulane’s campus. But nobody told me how difficult transferring can be. I don’t blame them because nobody could really understand until they’ve gone through it. As a sophomore transfer student, being on a new campus felt like freshman year all over again, minus the excitement of being a freshman. Little did I know, freshman year, or even your first year, at Tulane is iconic. From living within the grimy walls of Sharp or Monroe to dancing on tables at 50 cent shot night at the Boot, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d missed out. Being at a new university required a lot of effort to break the surface that no one prepared me for. I took almost my entire sophomore year to fully acclimate to Tulane and finally realize I made the right choice.

Junior Year: Several moments during junior year forced me to think critically about my transferring experience. At times I reflected and thought the experience went as smooth as possible, and other times I looked back on the aspects I left at my old school and questioned whether I actually made the right decision. I didn’t know that I would ask myself a series of “what ifs?” regarding my transfer decision two years later. But after a semester abroad, I returned to Tulane and for the first time college felt like home. Regardless of taking so long to feel the passion and excitement that so many others always felt, I knew in my gut I found my place at Tulane.

Senior Year:  While I may not have taken the most traditional route to college, I took the right route for me. To this day, I still have conversations almost every week about why I wasn’t here freshman year, or why we’ve never met before. Turns out transferring became an experience that consistently defines the remainder of my college years.

Transferring schools taught me more about myself than I have probably learned in college as a whole. But most of all, transferring taught me about happiness. I learned that happiness can be a daunting expectation. Now, I view happiness with a new perspective which is best summed up in a quote by Steve Maraboli:

“Happiness is a state of mind, a choice, a way of living; it is not something to be achieved, it is something to be experienced.”

And I’m here to tell you that you can experience happiness even as a transfer student.

Los Angeles native, brunch enthusiast and television fanatic. Senior at Tulane University studying Communications, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Jewish Studies.

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