The Freshman Experience: What is home?

I was home for Fall Break for four days, and I realized that maybe adapting to college was easier than I expected. When I entered my house Friday night, I didn’t see a place where I had numerous study sessions, birthday parties and mental health days. I saw a place to do laundry for free, watch some mindless television and sleep for awhile.
Sure, it was nice to be home. But I kept feeling like I had to go back to school, like this was more of a temporary sleepover than a homecoming. While the weekend kept me busy from noticing that my house was not exactly home, it also uncovered a new strangeness which college created—meeting up with high school friends.
Most of my high school friends, all of whom I have known for years, go to college within two hours of my hometown. So when a few of us come home for the weekend, we all come home for the weekend. And while I loved being around people who never need an explanation for my random songs or not-funny jokes, it was also startling to see how just a few months have changed us.
I left my friends for the entire summer, and I noticed little change when I came back. But now my friends are not just sitting around their houses or working at the local Dunkin’ Donuts; they’re making friends, testing their boundaries and (some of them) are becoming people who I never would have talked to in high school. When it’s just the few of us watching a movie or walking around town, I can’t entirely ignore the college sweatshirts, new belly-button rings and anecdotes starring new best friends. I can’t pretend that this is last June, when we all just graduated and were ready for something new.
We all desperately needed something different from our perfect little hometown. Well, we got what we wanted. And now, the constant of friends and home have been fogged. When I walked back into my dorm after Fall Break, arms filled with cleaned laundry and warmer coats, a friend leaned over the balcony and said hello. I realized then that while my house and my friends will never be exactly the same as they were, they will still be there for me when I need to escape from college.
But now I don’t need to escape so much. When I enter the dorm, I have people welcoming me home.
[Photo courtesy of danielbowen.com]

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