What makes a student choose cheese toast over home cooked meals? What makes a student leave her loving parents and choose to be on her own, in the middle of nowhere, to do her own laundry and shop for her own groceries?
Some parents might think they did something wrong if their child has to move to another province or country to attend school. Others might want their child to have life experiences and may encourage moving away for school. Every-time I board the train at Union station in Toronto, my parents get a little misty eyed and wonder why their daughter chose to attend school in another city. If a girl who has the most loving parents, the most supportive family can leave home for school, then surely there’s no hope left for anyone else?
I didn’t even think twice about leaving home – I assumed it was something everyone did. After high school, all my friends left for fascinating places – Europe, the Middle East, Vancouver and without thinking much about the decision, I thought I should have a ‘worldly’ experience as well so I decided to go to McGill, a great mix between campus life and city life. After living in Montreal for two years, I have never been happier. The ability to walk to the library in under three minutes puts a smile on my face – since at home, it would be a 15 minute drive. I don’t have the luxuries I had at home – my mom does not come into Montreal once a month to help me cook or do my laundry or to give me advice on my “teenage drama” and if I don’t wake up for class, no one comes knocking on my door (I know I say I hate it when my mom does that, but it is pretty convenient). Is it the lack of luxury that us students love – a world in which we are solely responsible for ourselves – or is it the comfort that living on campus brings that draw us here?
There are so many things I question now that never even crossed my mind while I made the decision to attend McGill. I wonder if I will ever live at home again – who knows what I will be doing after I finish McGill? Perhaps I’ll work in Ottawa or maybe I’ll get married, relocating me to somewhere other than my childhood home. I never thought about the time that goes by – four years in the grand scheme of what will hopefully be a long and healthy life is not that much. But when I left for McGill my brothers were 9 and 11 and when I graduate they will be 13 and 15, a time when the last thing they want to do is hang out with their sister. I’m missing out on their awkward puberty stage and even though it means I don’t have to share zit cream with them, I also don’t get to witness their shyness around girls or watch their baseball games. I’m like the divorced parent they see once a month and on holidays, but I rarely bring gifts.
I’m not sure why I chose Montreal – maybe students just need to get away for a few years and it could have been Tokyo or Kingston, Ontario. Maybe the prestige of “America’s Harvard” attracted me. Or maybe it was my selfish desire to develop my own thoughts and my own perceptions about the world, no matter the cost. Or maybe, just maybe, leaving home is a part of growing up – and it would have happened eventually.
I was never one to resist a good piece of cheese toast.