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My Last Day in Columbia

How my sense of Columbia-ness was reawakened and how I know I'll be back.

Ironically, on my last day at Columbia Patch the last page of my Associated Press notebook I got at a journalism job fair got filled.

My time in Columbia was on its last page.

I’d first moved to Columbia from Boston when I was 10 and I thought it was the best place in the world. Everywhere there as a pool, there was and the mall was seven minutes from my house. How much better could it get for a kid? I went to Clarksville Elementary, Clarksville Middle and then , living the normal Columbian kid life—I had a dog, a nice house and a car when I was 16.

But when I went away to University of Maryland, I was surrounded by kids from other states (ironic) and I longed for Boston again. The cold air, the uniqueness and antiquity of the towns (the house I was born in was down the street from an old graveyard), the lobster. Even my parents’ accents were fading.

Columbia started turning into this new, plastic suburbia where everything was the same and nothing was unique, not like the Northeast. When I would come home on breaks, I felt like I was trapped in a place where everyone and everything seemed so, well, new.

Thus, I started dreaming of moving back north. As a journalism major, the first place I thought of was New York. It was the perfect place, save for my sports loyalties. The biggest newspapers, the biggest magazines. I started planning my move when I was 19.

Now it’s happening. Tomorrow. Three years later and a U-Haul is sitting in my driveway, destination New York City. And the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw it? I’m going to miss Columbia.

When I interviewed people for , many of them told me they didn’t really appreciate Columbia until they’d left, and I’m realizing that’s how I feel too.

Columbia offers so many opportunities not available everywhere—I had such a colorful group of friends growing up that wouldn’t have happened in Massachusetts, and I appreciate culture so much having been to all my friends’ houses where their families were entirely different than mine.

How many kids can say they’ve learned to not discriminate?

And the schools. I had so many opportunities to learn and excel. I had some of the best teachers I’ve ever had here and solidified my interests and passions.

Part of this Columbia reawakening for me came from working at Columbia Patch. Writing so much about the community made me realize all the things I love about it. Many people say online news sites only regurgitate stories from larger news sources. Not so here.  I followed a . I attended a . I went to a . And I wouldn’t have done it anywhere else but here, and for Columbia Patch.

So now as I head off to the big city, somehow I know I’ll be back, whether it’s for years, a month, or even just a day. I can’t leave this place alone—I love Columbia.

Editor's Note: Columbia Patch freelancer Dana Cetrone will start her new post as assistant to the editor at Standard & Poor's in New York City Monday. She will be missed!

JH September 30, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Good luck Dana! Thanks for your fine contributions to the community. We will try to maintain high standards so that you will still recognize the place when you return.
Jerry Krasnick September 30, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Good luck! When you find Mr. Right, get married, come back to Columbia and give your kids what your parents gave to you!
Brian England September 30, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Have fun, come back when you want to settle down.
Danna Walker (Editor) September 30, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Dana, thank you for your wonderful contributions to Columbia Patch. You are a pro. Have a great time rockin' around NYC (Marshall Crenshaw: http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Rockin%27-Around-In-NYC-lyrics-Marshall-Crenshaw/E1D55E1FE6B4598248256B0500157AB5). You'll love it!

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