Two cities, one heart

A student reflects on her experience going to college across the country and learning to embrace the distance.


As a Seattle native, everyone always asks me why I decided to go to Temple, a school on the opposite side of the country. I don’t know what to say most of the time. There are so many reasons why I moved to Philadelphia, yet there were so many reasons why I loved Seattle, my home. 

When I was applying to colleges I thought Temple had an outstanding communications program, and I knew it was where I wanted to further my education in journalism. I also knew I wanted to keep the urban dynamics of Seattle, and I’ve loved the hustle and bustle style of the East Coast ever since I visited New York City for my 12th birthday. 

It was a tough decision, factoring in the out-of-state tuition and how many times a year I would get to see my family, but ultimately I decided Temple’s academics and environment were the best fit for me. 

I arrived in Philadelphia in August 2022 with the three suitcases I could fit on the plane, filled mostly with clothes and shoes. I spent my first day on campus watching other students arrive in cars using multiple move-in carts, while my personal belongings barely filled one.

I wasn’t just lacking personal belongings, I didn’t have any friends or family in Philadelphia. I had to start all over, which was something I found both nerve-wracking and exciting. 

I was looking forward to starting a new life that was entirely my own in Philadelphia. This was the first time I ever lived away from home, and I was ready for the independence that it would bring. I knew it was going to be difficult to adjust, but I was hopeful the people I met would become my support system.

I met some friends during the first week of freshman year in my residence hall who made it easier to adjust to the distance from home. We got to know each other, explored the campus and the city and had fun attending Welcome Week festivities together. 

As much as I loved my newfound freedom, I began to struggle with the distance between Philadelphia and my roots in Seattle after a few weeks. I couldn’t help but miss my family every day. I missed the home cooked meals, watching reality TV with my mom and the regular quality family time I often underappreciated before I was on my own.

I often talked to my new friends about how I wished I could go home more frequently, especially when they would visit their hometowns for a weekend or leave campus for break earlier than I could due to flights.

Many of my friends opened their homes to me for weekends and during holiday breaks throughout my freshman year so I could get a break from college life. Being welcomed into their households and family dynamics helped me combat my constant homesickness.

My friends’ support keeps me grounded and grateful for the opportunity to be in Philadelphia. I am thankful that my family supported my decision to move to this new city and pursue my dreams, even if it was across the country. Their love and support also reminded me that being far from home didn’t mean I couldn’t experience family dynamics with loved ones in Seattle, which encouraged me to find new ways to connect with them.

I now call my mom almost three times a week. We try to have family Zoom calls every Sunday and I’ve been helping my brother virtually with his college applications every week, all of which make the distance more bearable.

Being at Temple means I’ll miss family birthdays, milestones and occasionally Thanksgiving, but when I do get to see my family, it’s extra special. 

I spend at least a week in Seattle when I do go home. My mom likes to take days off work when I am there so we can go shopping and get lunch at our favorite local restaurants. 

It feels like I travel back in time when I come home. I’m able to leave all my anxiety and stress in Philadelphia, the only thing on my mind is spending time with my family. 

I now consider both Philadelphia and Seattle my homes. My original home is in Seattle, but the home I made for myself is in Philadelphia. 

My family has also grown to understand that Philadelphia feels like home too, and they’ve embraced my love for things like the Phillies. When I told my brother I was a fan of the Philadelphia baseball team — as is our mom, despite being from the Seattle area — Finn’s response was validating. 

“Well of course you are, that’s your home team,” my brother said. 

I smiled at the fact that my home team could be from both cities. I’ve grown to love Philadelphia as much as I love Seattle because of the amazing friends I continue to make here, but I love Seattle because I grew up there and it’s what I’ve always known. 

I thought I would feel detached from my family dynamic once I moved here, but making friends and finding new methods of long-range bonding made me feel far from disconnected. 

Despite the distance, I’m so glad I’m in Philadelphia, and so is my family. Some people say “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” and I can attest that that statement is positively true.

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