A lot can happen in four months, as you will soon discover when you arrive to your hometown only to find out everything you once recalled with fondness has completely changed. Maybe a brand new Wal-Mart has put all the trendy stores that decorated your town out of business, or an “authentic” Indian food restaurant has replaced your favorite diner. Meanwhile, your sister has redecorated your entire room, your mom has thrown away your “memory box” and your dad is currently undergoing a midlife crisis and now wears a leather jacket with fingerless gloves and has bought a boat. Everyone’s experience is a little different, but no one ever comes home after his or her first semester of college to find everything exactly as he left it. We at the Clog have compiled a list of a few things that have probably changed on the homefront while you’ve been away:
All little siblings imagine what they will do with their brother or sister’s room once he or she heads out to college. If you have an artsy-type sibling, then expect the walls to be covered with his or her latest watercolor pieces and your bed sheets to be stained with acrylic paint. Or if your sibling is a high-school athlete, you should be ready to sleep next to a pile of dumbbells and other assorted gym equipment. Sorry to break it to you, but those agreements you two made about respecting each other’s belongings before you left to college has long since been thrown out the window.
Your high school friends
Remember last December when you were freaked out about college applications and started tearing your hair out as you realized you had about 14 supplements to finish in two weeks before the Jan. 1 deadline? Well, your friends who are seniors in high school now are living that nightmare, meaning you should expect 2 a.m. phone calls to edit essays. You will undoubtedly have bittersweet feelings of both sympathy for their plight and superiority that you are no longer in their shoes, but no matter what, get ready to experience all your younger friends as coffee-gorging zombies dying to be done with college apps.
Home-cooked meals are wonderful for the first week, but you will soon begin craving the grease and familiarity of your favorite hometown eateries. Unfortunately, the turn-around time for businesses can at times be surprisingly quick, and we hope for your sake that that “amazing” burger joint you always bragged about to your Berkeley friends is still standing. Many college students have come home craving a dessert at their sacred ice cream parlor only to have their dreams crushed by the cruel invisible hand of the economy.
There are two possible ways this reunion will turn out: 1) After hugs and tears, your parents will never let you out of their sight. The overprotective craziness you were so happy to get away from has returned and become ten times more intense. Say goodbye to your friends, because your parents will never let you leave the house, as they need to spend all the time they physically can with their “baby” until you must eventually head back to school. Or 2) Your parents have gotten used to you being gone, having discovered their old lives and loving it, leaving you to do whatever you want during your time at home. They do not care if you are home at 10 p.m. or 3 a.m. or if you don’t wear a jacket when you go out. In a sense, they are treating you as if you are just renting a room in the house, which—while initially liberating—is its own disappointing development that might make you long for some hugs and tears.
Even from the first breath of that hometown air, you will sense something is off. As you visit your inspirational high school teachers, they may turn out now to seem slightly average. Those fries you once ate daily may not taste as great as they used to. The wonderful non-Berkeley weather you were expecting may be just as chilly and just as unpredictable. It is inevitable; your hometown will not be the same as when you left, even if every physical structure remains intact. This is because you have changed. More specifically, your first semester of college has changed you. You have grown and not in the direction your hometown has. If there is anything you should expect, it is slightly disappointing nostalgia, but not because you will be sad that things aren’t the way they used to be, but instead because things are not Berkeley.