The difficulties of your sibling going to a different school

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When I transferred to Cal in January 2017, I entered school wide-eyed and absolutely ready for my brother to join me the following fall when he was ready to transfer in.

That may come as a surprise to some of you who would tear off your left arm before going to the same school as your younger sibling, but my brother and I are best friends. (We were also homeschooled, and my general overview of homeschooling with your siblings is that it either makes you the best of friends or the worst of enemies — luckily for us, it was the former).

The previous November, I helped my brother with his college applications and helped him choose which schools to apply to, but secretly (or perhaps not-so-secretly), I hoped he would choose UC Berkeley.

One of the things about being a transfer student, however, is the wait. You have to wait much longer than freshman applicants to find out about your admission status. Some schools make you wait until late April (or even longer!), and it can seem like your whole world is on pause during this period of time. As transfers, most of us are coming from work and school in community colleges, so we don’t always have the time or money to come and visit every school. A lot of decisions are whirlwinds based on gut feelings and online research.

But my brother had the chance to come up to visit me during spring break, when I intended on wooing him with the wonders of Cal.

I pulled out all the stops: We visited the Campanile, got boba at U-Cha, took the BART into San Francisco, went down to Pier 51 and even shared a shake at Ghirardelli Square. We had a good time, but I could tell something was off.

Berkeley just didn’t click with his personality. The city vibe made him more nervous than excited, the competitive nature was more stressful than motivational and Oski was (or is) creepy no matter who you are.

In the end, he chose to attend a university closer to home. It all clicked for him. Maybe not in the way I wanted it to, but overall, what I wanted more was for him to find a place where he felt like he belonged. And in the end, isn’t that what all of us want?

It can be hard to go to schools that are far from one another, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t found ways to give each other a hard time like all good siblings do.

We tease one another whenever our school gets something or someone visiting that the other would want — he’s closer to the beach and warmer weather, but I get the benefits of the Bay Area.

If it means more FaceTiming and Skyping than regular study sessions, and helping one another over Google Docs instead of working side-by-side, that’s just part of what it means to be siblings (and friends) from other schools.

It means that we celebrate each other when we do well from a distance but also gives us a greater appreciation for the time we have when we’re together.

It’s cool to know that even you go to other schools, your sibling will always have your back. I know he’ll be at my commencement ceremony when I walk next spring, and I’ll be at his, too.

Contact Lauren West at [email protected].