My whole life, I’ve grown up on Long Island. I got used to living in the middle of beautiful beaches, and New York City. As I started to approach my college decisions, I decided that I wanted to live away from home. My reasoning was to see a different lifestyle such as the one that I was carrying out at the time. What I got was something much more detailed than I had originally expected.
I chose SUNY Cobleskill, which is located in the small town of Cobleskill, New York. The degree I was going into was Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, and SUNY Cobleskill is an Agricultural school. So the main reason why I chose SUNY Cobleskill was because I wanted to live in a different environment, just in the same state I always lived in. I figured that because I was lucky enough to have this privilege of going away to college, why not take it? I can only learn and grow from it.
Living in Cobleskill, for the two years of my freshman and sophomore year at SUNY Cobleskill meant to me that I would see change. Everything about Cobleskill, whether it is the school, the town itself, or the people living there, was completely the opposite of my life on Long Island. Living in Cobleskill meant letting go of having the luxury of putting my toes in beach sand anytime I wanted to, and waking up, looking outside of my window and seeing mountains (which, by the way, were covered with snow half the time). Not that snowy mountains were ever a bad thing, because they were beautiful!
What worked for me regarding living in the upstate town of Cobleskill is that I got more than I had originally planned for. Yes, I got what I wanted and I got to experience a different life style setting. Although, the students who were residents of the town of Cobleskill showed me that you really are a spitting image of where you grow up, and how you are raised. I got to learn more about farm animals, and that was a good experience.
What did not work is that because the town is so small, there is not much diversity. I consider myself a liberal person, and someone who knows that there are not just white people in the world. Although, because most of the residents of Cobleskill have never been out of Cobleskill (keep in mind that I am not making that as an assumption, this is what local students have told me), they have not seen or therefore knew many other different races of people. The one thing that did not work was that whenever my boyfriend came up to visit me, I would have a lot of disapprovals. (Which were not asked, not even my friends making judgments, just students or girls that lived on the same floor as I did). Because I am white, and my boyfriend is Dominican, we would always get the stare down and people would question me as to why I would date someone who is not the same skin tone as I am. This was a harsh reality for me, and it made me question why I should even start to explain myself. I never felt it was necessary to explain to people why I just loved my boyfriend for who he was, and not what his skin color was.
Living in Cobleskill, and knowing that half the students there disapproved of my life choices did not bother me. What bothered me was that we all live in the same state, and I have been so fortunate to be exposed to more than one race. The people living in Cobleskill and who will continue to live in Cobleskill will sadly never get that exposure, and not be able to become more diverse.
The way in which living in Cobleskill changed me was that it exposed me to face the reality that not everyone has seen difference in the world, including myself. As much as a shock as it was to still know that I am in the same state I have always grown up in, I am in a completely different world.
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