Near or Far?

James Herbert Moran (pen name JHM): A novelist, poet, and screenwriter, with a natural proclivity for haute couture. He currently is a junior English literature major at the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduation, he plans to return to the Empire City, in order to take on the fashion and publishing world.

For many college-bound, high school seniors, the question often arises: an in-state or out-of-state university? The former, more often than not, offers cheaper tuition; cheaper room and board; a closer proximity to home; and, generally speaking, an easier transition from high school to college. The latter, more often than not, is more expensive, both in terms of tuition and room and board; can be much farther from home; and therefore jettison a smooth transition—however it can be quite a marvelous and introspective adventure.
For myself, I applied to just shy of twelve colleges. My thought process was something along the lines of the following: “How many times in my life will I have the opportunity to apply to an undergraduate university?” [Little did I know I’d end up transferring two times before ultimately reaching UCLA]. Anyway, after FOUR…interesting…years of high school, I felt it was my divine right to conquer any application I felt interested in acquiring; and, so I did. Oh, how many essays I wrote.
As the acceptances and rejections rolled in, I decided, after much deliberation, to attend Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. I hail from a white, homogenous, upper-middle class suburb in Southern California, and so the Bronx proved a desirable antithesis—one of exposure to a multitude of cultures, races, and socio-economic classes. After all, I hadn’t traveled four thousand miles, from San Diego to New York, to remain in a bubble resembling that of my conservative Catholic High School. No, indeed, not at all. I craved change.
And, as odd as it may sound, I genuinely longed to know what it felt like to be a minority: to be the only white person in a room filled with black people; to feel the subtle stares that may or may not be directed at you. I remember vividly, about a week into my first semester, I rode alone on the D (subway train traveling between the North Bronx—by Fordham University—and Manhattan), and I was the only white person on the subway car. Quite frankly, I stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb, and my being a tall, lanky 6’2” male didn’t help me to blend in; albeit, I reveled in this newfound feeling of exposure; of slightly unnerving yet liberating distress.
Ultimately, I had come to New York City to ‘live’—to live in a manner inconsistent with my upbringing. And, by attending a university in one of the world’s largest metropolises, I could suck the marrow out of life, in a way I had never before. The plays, the nightlife, the shopping, Central Park, the Hudson River, the countless museums, popup restaurants, music festivals (and the list goes on…) all provided a sort of outside-the-classroom education.
You know how they say that America is a melting pot? Well, in my opinion, that cliché melting pot is epitomized in no greater degree, anywhere in the U.S., than in New York City. And, if I had shied away from applying to Fordham University for whatever reason, I would have deprived myself of experiencing an abundance of beautiful places and people.
So…apply, apply, apply; because you never quite know if they will or will not deny.

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