We’ve all seen the Wizard of Oz. No? Well, if you’re one of the pop-culture deprived, here’s a quick summary: lackadaisical Dorothy and her dog, Toto, get sucked up by a tornado. They arrive in a mystical land called Oz, where our brave heroine promptly steals some shoes, talks to strangers, murders two witches, and takes down the government. She then realizes that this exhilarating life of crime is not what she wanted. In a miracle of modern-day transportation, she teleports back to her home in Kansas. Coincidentally, Kansas is my home as well.
The famed ruby slippers. Photo by Chris Evans.
You’re not in Kansas anymore!
Did you bring Toto with you?
If you get homesick, you can always just click your heels together!
Luckily for me, none of the other freshmen brought theirs along, either. Some students had a short journey along the yellow brick road to get here. Others traveled much farther than I did. But no matter how far we are from home, we’re all in the same boat. We’re living with new people, making new friends, showering in questionably hygienic bathrooms, eating … interesting dining-hall food. We have to fend for ourselves. We’re adults now. There is no pair of shoes that will magically transport us back to our childhood—no matter how many times we click our heels together.
That’s not to say that our hometowns don’t affect us. Moving 1,313 miles from McPherson, Kansas, has certainly been eye-opening. I’ve encountered more diversity here in the past 9 days than I did in the 11 years I spent in Kansas. Philadelphia, one of the largest and most historically significant cities in the United States, is now right at my fingertips. I no longer wake up to sunrises over wheat fields. I can’t see cows out my front window.
So maybe some of those Dorothy references aren’t completely unwarranted. I am a long, long way from home—but so is everyone else. If I’ve learned one thing since I came here, it’s that college is neutral ground. Where you grew up, what accent you have, and who you used to be doesn’t really matter anymore. We’re all in Oz now. And, last I checked, no one brought their ruby slippers.