Larson Binzer, CAS, Journalism & Politics

No one from my high school had ever gone to college north of Arkansas before I enrolled at NYU. The whole summer before I left, I recall people constantly asking me, their southern drawls still poignant in my memory, “Are you nervous to be moving to such a big city?” I quickly shrugged them off.

August came and I carefully packed my things (far too optimistic about how much I could fit into a Third North dorm room). My family made its way towards Welcome Week, and I thought only about how lucky and excited I was. This was New York, and I was 18, totally grown up. Right?

The night before move-in day, I was doing a final check of all of my boxes in the back of my uncle’s SUV. There, in the middle of the New Jersey driveway, alone in the dark, the gravity set in. There was all my stuff, 2,000 miles away from the house I’d lived in since I was four years old. But it wasn’t just my stuff that was moving — I was going with it.

I sprinted back into the house and spent the next three hours nudged between my parents in the tiny guest bed, bouncing between tears and anxious rambling. “Maybe I should have gone to a campus school? Or stayed closer to home? New York has eight million people in it, did you know that?” I sat petrified, like a five-year-old scared to start kindergarten.

My parents encouraged me to stick it out a month, reminding me I chose New York for a reason. If I didn’t like it, I could always come home. So even with the knot in my stomach, I gave it a go.

Four years later, I’m so glad I did. I found the diversity and perspective I’d longed for in my hometown. I had great experiences, where I found new art, neighborhoods, cuisines, cultures and interests. I had a few bad experiences, but I learned important lessons. I discovered a love of writing and a college newspaper I loved writing for. I found a great internship. I drank way too much East Village coffee at Sunday brunches, and I made friends that will last forever. And even with the lack of a football team, I grew a sense of Violet pride.

But more than just my great time at NYU, remembering that night in New Jersey with my parents huddled close reminds me of something else: It’s okay to be scared of something new. In fact, the things you are most nervous to do — that take you out of your comfort zone — are often the experiences that will really make the difference. So go ahead and push yourself that extra bit, because that’s when the greatest parts of life will start to happen.