After last week’s column highlighting advice for soon-to-be college freshmen from my son at Boston University, I had a few questions from parents about my son choosing to go across the country for college, as opposed to staying near home. From a parent’s perspective, I would have loved to have had him close, but the decision had to be his (and with an ROTC scholarship, he had the option to go out of state for college). And, given that the military sometimes offers MilKids a life of travel and living in many places, I think his choosing a school away from home was a continuation of that experience.
I decided to ask him about studying 2,017 miles from home (but who’s counting). I thought his reply might help MilFams who are in the college search phase.
“The longer I have studied in Boston, the more I have come to appreciate studying out of state, especially in the Northeast. Everything I have experienced has broadened my horizons considerably — kind of an extension of growing up as a MilKid and the experiences and lessons that life brought to me. I truly think attending an out-of-state school is an integral part of the college experience, and I highly recommend it.
Many of my friends at BU are from the East coast and have taught me some valuable lessons about life here. One particular lesson stands out the most, and I won’t forget it any time soon. My Boston friends like to jokingly call me a ‘hick’ because of the way I pronounce words like ‘Nevada’ and ‘aunt’ and because one time my Colorado friends and I went backpacking and shot, cooked, and ate squirrels. Apparently, being a hick extends to food, and the lesson I learned is just one more way I have been enlightened to Eastern culture — and here it is:
If you have lived in the Northeast, especially New York, then enough said. But for all the clueless ‘hicks’ like me, apparently bagels are a big deal. I learned this lesson very quickly when I was ambushed by the wrath of New York and Connecticut friends at BU after I asked: “Well how different can a bagel be?” I think my friend had just described how his dad would go out to their family’s favorite bagel shop every Saturday morning to buy fresh bagels; a statement that confused me as to what a bagel store was, let alone how one could be a favorite. But I stand corrected now, as evidently there is a lot that can go into how a bagel is baked and how it is prepared — just don’t ask me what.”
As a parent, I’m happy how the military life has broadened my children’s horizons. It’s important for them to realize they don’t live in a vacuum and to understand there are different cultures where people do things differently — even within the U.S. And even if that lesson has to do with food (from fish eyes in Japan, to blood sausage in Germany, to bagels in the Northeast).
Now I need to get his friends out to Colorado and show them true chili and barbecue (and craft beer, but that will be in a couple of years).