By Tamarah Marston, Staff Writer 

Maybe it’s the way the University of Maine at Farmington is burrowed between mountains, snug and cowering proudly to make the captivating mountain peaks distinct. Or maybe it’s the consistently busy sidewalks filled with vivacious students and familiar faces. Whatever it is, four years ago, in the fall of 2011, I was a freshman who felt at ease making the transition from high school to college. UMF quickly became a place of comfort and a place to call home. In just one short month, that familiarity will be altered. I will be making the intimidating, unfamiliar transition to the dark side. Also known as: the real world.

Soon, homework deadlines, cramming for exams, and worrying about academic success will be a thing of the past. My next concerns will include paying back student loans, finding a full-time job, and worrying about career benefits. Though this transitional period is fast approaching, I am not alone. Sam Gifford, a senior and rehabilitation services major, is expected to graduate in the spring of 2016. Similar to me, Gifford is completing an internship next semester to fulfill a requirement within her major. “I’m going to live in Portland and do an internship related to my field,” she said. “Then get a ‘real’ job.”

I will be working full-time and fulfilling my internship requirement with a remarkable organization in the mental health field. I look forward to strengthening my knowledge, values, and experiences within a field I am so fortunate to be a part of, but I’m still left with a great deal of self-doubt. Will I enjoy my work? Will I be good at my job? What if I made the wrong decision five years ago? Kayla Meissner, also a senior intended to graduate in the spring of 2016, holds many of the same fears I do. “After high school it was just expected I go to college,” said Meissner. “I knew I would have four more years of school to complete, but once college is over the next step is the world you create, not what others expect you to do.”

Though intimidating, this transition has been successfully made many times before by many different people. Alyce McLeod, a current graduate student at Utah State University (USU), graduated from UMF in the spring of 2015. McLeod intended on working full-time at a local agency, but quickly changed paths when she was offered a full ride at a university in Utah to get her master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Being across the country has not been easy for McLeod. “I miss the community feeling that Farmington offers,” she said. “It’s just like a big family.”

Nonetheless, change is going to take place. It is scary, unfamiliar, and intimidating, but change is also inevitable and unavoidable. Despite all my efforts to just run and hide or have someone make all of my decisions, I have to brave the real world, embrace the change and, as McCleod said, “keep a positive outlook and just roll with the punches.”