The following essay was submitted by Alli Remily as part of our #Write2Win Contest. It was one of our favorite submissions, so she’s won a prize and we’re reposting it here.

iStock_000024157410SmallThe one thing nobody ever tells you about college is how completely alone you feel. For the first time in your life, you are supposed to do everything on your own when just a few months ago everybody held your hand. It’s scary. The thing is, you’re so excited to finally get to do whatever you want, to become an adult. But it’s hard, a lot harder than anyone thinks. I go to college in another state, so I don’t have the luxury of going home any weekend I want and have my family cook me food and do my laundry. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

My parents always wanted me to go to college in state but I fell in love with my out-of-state college when we first visited. So going to college 5 hours by car away from my parents has taught me not to give up when things get rough. I had a terrible first year of college. I was constantly homesick, crying all the time, and even having dinner with my family over Skype instead of with people from my dorm. It was really hard for me to make friends. But I knew that I couldn’t just give up and go home, no matter how much I wanted to. It’d be a slap in the face to all the people who never get the chance to go to college.

I ultimately got help from my roommate. She was from out of state as well and was two years older than me. Seeing her go to college and knowing that that year was her third year away from home helped so much. She showed me that I could go to college away from home, that I could be an adult and take care of myself. The real turning point was the night I asked her if the homesickness ever goes away. At this point I was so done with it all. I felt like the homesickness was crushing me and I was seriously considering switching schools to somewhere closer to home, even though I love my college. Her response was simple, but changed everything. She said, “Homesickness doesn’t really ever go away completely, but it does get easier to deal with.” That was really the moment when I realized that I didn’t have to give up because it was hard. I could be strong and go to college wherever I wanted.

The biggest lesson I learned from college is to be strong and keep moving forward. I think I would have enjoyed my first year of college much more, you know, like the brochures say you’re supposed to, if I’d just focused less on the sadness and more on the amazing opportunity I had in front of me. I’m now a sophomore and, while I still get homesick, a lot, I’m much better at being able to look past the sadness and appreciate how lucky I am to even get to go to college. I’ve learned how to keep moving forward and it is the best lesson I ever learned.