Waco, Baylor offer more than what’s on surface

I’ve always dreamt of living in the city, but now I’m not so sure anymore.

I was born and raised in Illinois. Growing up, I dreamt of living in Chicago or New York City after college. I’ve always liked living a busy life, and, well, the city life is just that. Busy. There are so many places to go, people to see. The romanticizing stopped when I decided to attend Baylor University.

Waco is no Chicago or New York City. I had never visited Baylor before choosing to attend and had a hard time adjusting my freshman year. My phone calls to my parents consisted of complaints, lots of crying and pleading to bring me back home. I didn’t know anyone coming into college, had no idea what to do for fun and felt as if I stuck out like a sore thumb because I didn’t own any oversized shirts or Nike shorts.

Well, I never transferred and I’m glad I didn’t. I love Baylor and the city that it’s in. I’ve been at Baylor for four years and will be here for a fifth. I’ve also accepted an internship in Waco for the coming summer. Waco is far from the city life that I wanted, but the city life is far from what I want now.

During those four years, I’ve learned more about myself than I did the 18 years in Illinois. For some out-of-state students, adjusting to the lifestyle at Baylor might be rough. It may seem boring and difficult making friends because you don’t “fit in,” and you’ll continue to see it that way unless you step out.

Plug into the community. Baylor offers a variety of organizations. If you’re interested in partaking in Greek life, Baylor offers a handful of Panhellenic sororities and fraternities along with multicultural ones as well. If not, there are plenty of other organizations that cater to students’ interests, culture and academia. You can do the things you love with people that share similar interests. There are plenty of outlets for meeting new people and even opportunities to build your experiences.

There’s also more to Waco than meets the eye. Although it may not seem like it at first, there are a lot of neat places to visit for food or for fun. Pick a day and hit up downtown Waco. You can dine in at the Hippodrome, sip on some great chai tea latte at Dichotomy or try some Italian at Portofinos. If you like being outdoors, there’s always hiking at Cameron Park or kayaking on the Brazos River. There’s plenty to do. All you need to do is look around and also find a good friend that’s up for an adventure.

As for fitting in, you don’t need to because you already do. You contribute to the community by being who you are. If everyone thought and acted the same way, no one would ever learn anything. I still consider myself pretty individualistic, but I’ll admit, I own larger shirts now than I did before. I have yet to invest in a pair of Nike shorts, though.

Four years may seem like a long time, but at the end of the road, you’ll see it wasn’t that long at all. Adjusting may be hard, but if you open your mind and your heart, you may be able to find yourself loving the campus and this city.

Sarah Pyo is a senior journalism major from Chicago. She is the Web & Social Media editor for the Lariat.