Nine days, eight hours, and 24 minutes. That’s how long it took for me to relocate my family from Los Angeles, CA to State College, PA during the peak of summer 2015. Having lived within a 30 mile radius of my high school in Los Angeles my entire life, the journey was particularly momentous for me. As my husband packed our life in a black SUV that felt like we were playing a real life version of Tetris, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had made a mistake. Space saver bags stacked five high filled our car- that before that moment felt big enough for our small family of three. As the last bag went in the car, the feeling of anticipation quickly began filling my body manifesting by way of shivers and sweaty hands. Our two year old daughter, Mia, patiently watched as we secured her red tricycle to the back of the pick-up truck that would haul our SUV and where we would spend the next few days traversing the country. The summary of our trip: California to Nevada then up to Idaho and Montana to make a pit stop at Yellowstone, then back on the road through South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, down to Illinois, Indiana, then Ohio and finally arriving in Pennsylvania.
As we pulled away from the home where we’d spent the last few years, a knot quickly moved from my stomach to my throat as I realized that we were flipping the page to a new chapter in our lives. The anxiety quickly dissipated as we checked-off, out loud, all of the action items on our to-do list to ensure we hadn’t missed anything. The list that wouldn’t have been checked off so quickly without the help of 220 (as we fondly refer to our MBA administration referencing the suite number corresponding to the main office). The list included finding housing (220 gave us a detailed list of housing in the area including price, distance from the business building, and even an estimate of how much we would pay for amenities). We quickly decided on the family-friendly Cricklewood Apartments in Toftrees. When I expressed that we needed help finding employment for my husband, Stacey immediately sent me resources that we could utilize. Ann became my advocate when I expressed the need for subsidized day care. All of these seemingly small acts in aggregate showed me what would be confirmed weeks later- this was not going to be the typical MBA program, this was a family disguised as an MBA program. In what other program does the Director of Admission and the Director of Diversity Enhancement Programs skype in to your office going away celebration 3,000 miles away? Only at Smeal.
Now that I’m five weeks into my first year and finals for the first mod are a few days away, I am filled with the same sense of anticipation I felt a few weeks back. In these short weeks, I’ve already gone to three large scale career fairs, applied to more than a dozen internships, interviewed with two fortune 100 companies, and visited Florida for a national recruiting conference- all while taking five classes and maintaining a family. The seemingly impossible is happening and I no longer feel the anxiety I felt before leaving. For those of you who are out there contemplating whether or not you should take this leap; TAKE IT. I am especially speaking to those people who think they can’t do this because they have kids, or they don’t have the money, or they have too many obligations. I recited each of these excuses many times in my head and as I sit at my desk writing this blog, between putting my baby to sleep and completing my accounting homework, I am so glad I didn’t listen to that voice.