The struggles of being a Yankee

By Gretchen Keller

Collegian File Photo

“Oh, you’re from Framingham? I know people from Framingham! I’m from Andover and my roommate lives in Haverhill.”

If you have absolutely no idea where those places are, you must be from out of state, like me.

During the college application process, I kept telling my family that I wanted to go away. Although I don’t regret my choice, there are some things I wish I could have warned myself about before making my decision.

First, the University of Massachusetts campus makes no sense. Different roads randomly connect in the most inconsistent patterns. I’ve been getting really good at using sun navigation since I’ve come here, because I don’t know any other way to get around. Coming from New York City, I’m very accustomed to counting blocks and making simple lefts and rights. I miss my numbered streets, right angles and polluted air. It took me the entire first semester to figure out where certain things were on campus and find the most efficient way of getting to them on the sloping roads and random dirt pathways. Navigation would be much easier throughout this big campus if it were in a grid system.

Being such a massive University, it is common for multiple family members to have attended UMass. Maybe your parents met here, or your brother or sister was in a certain building their freshman year and now you want to be in that same building. There are even such die-hard Minutemen who have their weddings here. I can’t say I can relate. Truthfully, I have no real kinship or devotion to this school other than the fact that I go here. Being from out of state, I don’t know a single person who attended this school before me. When I meet someone, they usually just say their town. “I’m from Sandwich.” Great, thanks. I’m from Panini.

One of the most prominent differences between a Massachusetts college and any other school is definitely athletic pride. This competition stems far beyond collegiate triumphs. Despite not intensely keeping up with sports, I’ve always known that there is a rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. I am further reminded of this rivalry when I’m overwhelmed in a crowd chanting “f*** the Yankees” at every hockey game. But this won’t stop me from wearing my pinstriped jersey around proudly.

According to peers, my accent tends to come out sometimes, especially during meals. “Say water! Say coffee!” are some pretty common requests. The words “noine” and “awl” also usually inspire laughter. There’s always some kind of comment when I’m calling back home in front of friends because I say “Hi mahm.” Since I’m from New York, Massachusetts accents sound just as weird to me as my accent sounds to people here. Why is Worcester pronounced “Wuss-ter” instead of the way it’s spelled? Since when did ‘wicked’ become a substitute for ‘very’?

Don’t get me started on tuition rates. As if college wasn’t expensive enough, prices skyrocket for out-of-state students. As much as I enjoy classes and the dining hall, there’s this constant tuition cloud that looms over my head each and every day. This cloud will probably continue to stay there, even after graduation.

There have been multiple times when I’ve been sick with a fever and wanted nothing more than to crawl into my bed with my dog at the end. But going home on the weekends is both expensive and impossible. Public transportation for an out-of-stater means that you’re the last one to leave and the last to come back for breaks. Peter Pan buses are a nightmare that take nearly double the amount of time that they should. Every commute to the city means traffic, so tack on another hour for that.

But ultimately, the most difficult part about being an out-of-state student is being so far away from your family. It’s not plausible to return home for a weekend for a family member’s birthday or a special occasion. Family and Homecoming weekends are out of the question because your parents probably have to work and it’s simply too far of a drive for two days. It’s hard to go months without hugging your mom. Or, more importantly, petting your dog.

I love my school. I’ve met some of the best people I’ve ever known since being at school so far. I’m grateful for all the memories that I have made with them. But deep down, there’s no place like home. You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.

Gretchen Keller is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]