Saturday, May 22, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: When You First Left Home

I tend to think of people leaving home when they go to college.  I wonder if that's most of what we'll see with posts for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise from Randy Seaver.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

(1) When did you first leave your parents' home?  Why did you leave?  Where did you move to?  What was it like?  What did you learn?

(2) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post.  Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

Of course, the main reason I think of people leaving home to go to college is because that's what I did.

I left home permanently in 1979, when I was 17 years old.  I graduated high school in June, and I left in August.  I never again lived with my parents, but I did visit several times over the years.

I graduated from Niceville Senior High School in Niceville, Florida.  (Yes, that's really the name.)

I was accepted to all of the universities to which I applied:  University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles; University of Chicago; University of Miami (Florida); and Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.  I restricted my list to universities which would allow me to use my National Merit Scholarship and which offered a sufficient number of foreign languages, because that's what I wanted to study.

For many reasons,  I didn't want to stay in Florida, so that knocked University of Miami off the list.  (I think I applied there only because my mother wanted me to, so that I would stay in Florida.)  I wasn't crazy about the prospect of living in Texas, so there went Trinity.  And my mother talked me out of the University of Chicago, because she didn't think I would deal well with the winters (I have figured out since then that I probably would have been fine).  And that left USC.

My mother traveled with me to Los Angeles for freshman orientation; I think it was in July.  I packed up all my belongings in suitcases and brought them with me on the trip.  (Well, everything except one very large, unique bookcase, which when my parents moved from Florida to San Antonio I begged them to bring with them, because I really, really wanted to keep it.  They didn't.)  From there we went to Las Vegas, where her parents lived.  I stayed with them until the fall semester started in September.  My grandparents drove me and my material belongings (and a bicycle that my grandfather bought for me for $25, so I would have transportation) down to Los Angeles when it was time for school to start.

During my four years of undergraduate school, I lived in dorms.  My freshman through junior years I had roommates, and my senior year I had a room to myself.  In the dorm I didn't do any cooking (although I already knew how to), because the rooms came with meals plans for the cafeteria, which was conveniently downstairs.  The dorm also had laundry facilities, so I didn't have to go anywehre to wash my clothes.  Lounges had TV sets, so I had entertainment.  So my life was pretty self-contained on campus.  When I graduated I continued at USC as a full-time employee and found a place to live near campus.

Why did I leave my parents' home?  Not only did I want to go to college, but I wanted to get out of Florida.  I hate humidity, and I hate 95/95 weather (95°, 95% humidity) even more.  I'm from California originally, and I like that weather a lot better.  Plus the part of Florida that I was in was the first place that I experienced anti-Semitism, and I didn't feel like sticking around for more.

What did I learn?  During my undergraduate years I had the opportunity to meet a much broader range of people than I had known previously, and that even takes into account the fact that I had lived in another country for two years when I was younger.  I had Philippino, Chinese, and Black roommates over the years.  I learned that I can support myself, because after my freshman year I didn't get financial assistance from my parents, even though USC is a grossly expensive private school.  I had scholarships and financial aid through the university, but I also worked 40 hours a week during the school year while carrying a full academic load and 60 hours a week during the summers.  And I learned that I really, really don't think life is worth living without a cat (no cats in the dorm, of course).


  1. Great story. Sometimes I wished I had gone away to school. However, I paid my own way while living at home and was debt-free.

    1. Debt-free has huge advantages. I was deferring and paying off my loans for years.

  2. I can understand you wanting to get out of Florida. I'm not a fan of humidity either and, the few times I've been there, I was constantly drenched. Growing up in NJ, I always heard the grownups talking about how wonderful it would be when they retired to Florida. I've never understood the attraction!

    1. So you find Florida too humid for your taste? I've always found New Jersey overly humid also, although I don't know if y'all get 95/95 weather.


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