They say that you never know what you have until it is gone…I found that out to be true when I went away to college. I went away to college in the fall of 2000, prior to that I had lived in my neighborhood of Mount Vernon, New York for ten years.

Mount Vernon is the typical small urban neighborhood. My opinion at that time was that nothing important or special was to be found in Mount Vernon. After graduating high school, I knew that I definitely wanted to leave…and have a change of scenery.

I applied to five different colleges, and had gotten accepted to all. The farthest one was located ten hours away. I decided that I didn’t want to be that far away from home, so I chose to attend a school in Boston, Massachusetts instead. Boston, Massachusetts was only four hours away from home…I figured that would be far away enough. Plus, Boston was known as a good place to attend college. Some of the best colleges in the Northeast and the United States are found within Boston…So how could I miss.

September 2000 came…and I packed up and left for school. The school that I attended was O.K. I quickly learned that college is not what it is cracked up to be. The college that I attended was in a rich residential area; the houses within that area are worth a million dollars and up. The neighborhood was very nice…it would be a perfect place to raise a family if you had the money, but as a student…I found it lacking diversity in many aspects. The nearest supermarket was three miles away from the school, which isn’t bad when the weather is good, but at winter time…the short walk seemed like a hassle. There were NO bodegas or corner stores in my neighborhood. If I didn’t make it to the cafeteria for dinner, I would have to order takeout from the next city. When I had some pocket money, and wanted to go shopping…I would have to pay fifty dollars total to go to and from the closest mall.

With all these new things present, I started to miss the familiarity of home. I missed my neighborhood…with its diverseness…in Mount Vernon, there were so many different types of people, so many cultures, and so many faces for the most part everyone got along. I missed the apartment buildings, I missed being able to go out on my terrace, and watch something new happen everyday…without really being apart of it.

I missed being able to hop on bus, train, or take a cab…before I went away to school…I would get mad at the taxi guys when they showed up late…but at least they showed up. In my new place…I would have to call a cab station located in another city…and I was charged by the meter, instead of having a set price.

I missed being able to go shopping on Fourth Avenue…I remember that my father would give me a hundred dollars for allowance…and if I went shopping on the Avenue…I would come back with bags. A hundred dollars in my savings account was nothing in college, because half that money was tax-fare…and maybe I could afford two shirts with rest. In my neighborhood in school, there were no plazas…there was just the mall.

In Mount Vernon, I could go to Chicken Hut, Panda Chinese Restaurant, Pizza King, Caribbean Eateries, at up to 2am in the morning. In my part Boston, everything shuts down at 9pm.

As time went on, I found myself missing Mount Vernon. I never realized how much my neighborhood had until I left. I remember in high school, my friends and I would say “ We want to get out of Mount Vernon, there isn’t nothing here for us…people getting shot, most of the girls that we know are pregnant, the high school is getting worse; Can’t amount to jack in Mount Vernon.”

When I went away to Boston, I learned that even though the neighborhood has many things to overcome…it was not really that bad at all. It had so much potential, but you probably couldn’t see it…until you went somewhere else. Now whenever I come to Mount Vernon, I take time out to walk around, and see my neighborhood for what it is, I have learned how to appreciate the small place that I came from, and the things that are found within it. Mount Vernon isn’t the greatest spot to live in…but it sure is my home.