Leaving the nest and finding myself

By Angela Kim
Valencia, Calif. 

Growing up, I was encouraged by my parents to “leave the nest” and experience as much as I could, but I was always overwhelmed by how big the world was. I was overwhelmed by the entirety of people, places and experiences the world had to offer, but also nervous about being away from home. So when I was accepted into the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program this spring, I felt ambivalent.

I left Los Angeles with unease, but once I met other students from the program boarding my plane, my apprehension gradually disappeared. I was now shaking with anticipation: I wondered what kind of people I would meet and what the East Coast would be like.

During this program, I experienced so much more than I ever imagined. I met individuals from all across the country and from all walks of life. Raised in a predominantly homogenous community, I was thrilled to see people from all races and religions put aside their differences and share a common interest in journalism. I joined in the most engaging and intellectual discourse with my new friends and broadened my horizons.

The most unforgettable moments were when my friends and I would walk back to the dorms in the late hours of the evening and howl with laughter like wolves under the moon. I realized then that there is so much to experience and appreciate outside of my community in Southern California.

There were moments when I still could not believe that I was in Princeton. Even visiting New York and New Jersey for the first time, I was so glad to see that my expectations were exceeded tenfold: the renowned cities of the East Coast were even more beautiful than they were on a television or the movie screen.

Most importantly, I was able to delve into my passion for journalism. Without my smartphone, and hundreds of miles away from my family and friends, I was able to concentrate solely on developing my skills as writer and reporter.

This program truly diversified my journalistic abilities by allowing me to step out of my comfort zone to write a wide variety of articles and meet celebrated professors and journalists. To say it was inspiring would be an understatement.

I used to believe that turning 18 would signify my becoming an adult, and that only then would I be taken seriously. But after this experience at Princeton, my perspectives on adulthood have changed. Before I embarked on this trip, I was like a timid child. But after coming to Princeton, I now look forward to encountering new people and places, as well as overcoming whatever obstacles I encounter.

I know now that thanks to this experience, I have gained the confidence and exuberance that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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