“It’s high tide, you’ll learn to get by.” A Lot’s Gonna Change, Weyes Blood

I moved into my apartment last September with all the grace of a bull in a porcelain shop. Sweaty, disheveled, butterfingered. Nighttime settled in before I could ferry my precious cargo from my dad’s minivan to the living room. After bidding adieu to my parents, I ate a burger on the floor of my kitchen, illuminated by a tangy incandescent light. As I ate alone, I was confronted by silence, occasionally interrupted by my own sniffle or sob.

While many transfers I’ve met at UCSC were bursting at the seams to escape their hometowns, I left my house with both hands gripped on the doorframe, Mom and Dad tugging on either foot. Transferring was a major point of contention; I outgrew the rhythm that cradled me for most of my life just as I was starting to brick the foundation of my adulthood and I built a healthy cadence between working and spending time with loved ones. 

I was comfortable and I didn’t want to leave behind everything I worked for, but I knew deep down that part of my life would never truly leave my side –– it just wouldn’t be right next to me. In the two years I spent at community college, I was patiently dormant, quietly sowing the seeds for the rest of my twenties.

The period before I moved to Santa Cruz felt overbearingly infinite. The droning dog days of August played over and over like a broken record. On nights when it was too hot to sleep, I kept myself awake by imagining the day I would move in. I watched myself carry boxes up flights of stairs and arrange furniture this way and that way. Yet, no long-standing amount of preparedness could make it any easier. The change, even if I was watching it hurdle towards me from lightyears away, came so abruptly that it suddenly became so difficult to part with my previous life.

I’ve always wondered if endangered species know they are endangered. How long do they spend thinking about the next time they’re going to see another of their kind? If they’re anything like us transfer students, the answer is “hopefully, not too long.” Whenever I would come across another transfer student on campus, I felt the same energetic surge as finding a lost earring on the beach or reuniting with a sibling separated at birth. 

The shared experience of transferring is magnetic. Making yourself known to strangers is difficult, but when you talk to enough random people, introducing yourself becomes a knee-jerk reaction. Suddenly, I realized the limits of my loneliness were bound by my own terms. 

My first on-campus event was the Homesick Slug Jam, a concert hosted in the Cowell Courtyard that was so loud, it was teeming with tinnitus. There, I fell head-first into a group of transfer dormmates who were as excited to meet me as I was them. We laughed with the sonority of seagulls all the way to the bus stop where we eventually parted ways — but just for the night. 

Relationships take time to develop, but casting a wide net and learning how to feel comfortable in the openness of other individuals (who are just as anxious about meeting people like you) can be rewarding. The best connections are established through humility, by being vulnerable in sharing your guilty pleasures and taking true ownership of what you love.

Many things have changed since I sat there in my kitchen bathed in that sunken yellow light. My roommate trailed in a few days after with a zeal that can remedy any homesickness. I’ve even crossed paths with some of the most brilliant, like-minded individuals of the highest caliber who’ve helped me realize the significance of my ideas and contributions. But most important of all, I found a table to eat a burger off of.