Last year, during April, I remember having anxiety about National College Decision day on May 1.
I visited ten Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) across the country ranging from Howard University to Florida A&M University (FAMU). I even visited Hampton University two weeks before decision day.
To be honest, Grambling was never my first choice. However, it turned out to be the best overall option at the time. I knew I wanted to leave Illinois, therefore, I only applied to out of state schools. Many of my family members graduated from GSU, as I am a third generation legacy.
I, initially, was not excited about coming to Grambling, however, over the summer, as I met more people through social media, I became more anxious for move in day. I imagined coming to Grambling would be like “A Different World”. I thought college was going to be just like the movies. I knew that leaving the fast paced city of Chicago for rural Louisiana would require a big adjustment.
Although I visited Grambling in February 2018, the culture shock was initially still too much after I enrolled. Back at home, I had my car and I was able to get places a lot easier. One day, I decided I wanted to go get my nails done and something to eat in Ruston. I opened up my Uber app and it said “No Ubers near you”. Lyft said the same thing and when I spoke with my former roommate from Louisiana she explained the nearest Uber was probably in Dallas.
Grambling is completely different from Chicago in every way possible. There were times my experience was not so pleasant.
One major issue for me are my eating options as a vegetarian.
On campus, we have Taco Bell, Panda Express, Krispy Chicken, Burger King and Subway. There is not much diversity within those eating options. The cafe usually serves meat with every meal and fails to provide any vegetarian options aside from the salad bar.
I also ran into many issues with my roommates. I thought that because I had apartment style, I would not have issues with them. I was proven wrong. The roommate I shared a bathroom with was extremely unclean. She left hairs, bodily fluids and even molded chicken in our shared space which was too much for me to bear. I ended up moving to another apartment style dorm. I learned that everyone is not raised the same way you were.
Academically, I believe I performed well. There were not any classes that were too challenging for me aside from biology. I did consider at one point re-applying and transferring to my top schools, Howard or FAMU.
I felt like a school with a more advanced mass communication program would be better fitting for me. I decided to make the most of my experience and use the resources around me. I got involved with the radio station and I even became Art & Style Editor for the school newspaper.
I learned the importance of having the willingness to adjust. Adjusting with the culture shock was very hard for me at first. I realized that you determine your own experience at Grambling, and in life, you have to make adjustments.
I decided to see how my first year goes before making any decisions.
In college, I have experienced many firsts. I went to Dallas and New Orleans for the first time. I lived away from my family for four months for the first time.
Having a strong group of friends also made my experience a lot better. I came to Grambling not knowing anyone as no one from my high school came down here. I, luckily, became friends with people from Chicago.
We all share the same struggles of being far away from home. Sometimes, I would get jealous of people going home because they live so close. I am grateful to have some nearby family in Shreveport, but it was not the same.
I realized that I made the decision to come here to push myself out of my comfort zone. I could have stayed in Chicago or any nearby state, but I do not think I would have had the same growth.
Sometimes, being in Grambling feels like I am on a isolated island, however, I just have to remind myself of my purpose of being here.
I know both of my parents are a phone call away, while also realizing that them being 800 miles away has accelerated the process of me growing into womanhood.