Going home from college is always a strange and emotional experience. There’s excitement surrounding seeing friends and family; missing your roommates and pals from school; sudden loss of independence; being back in your childhood room; the joy of being spoiled once again by your parents. It’s always a whirlwind.
Having stayed at school for most of this summer, I only had two weeks to spend at home. Unlike a normal summer where I had months to fall back into a routine and time to get around to all I wanted to do, this break was much quicker. Having so little time meant feeling a range of emotions all at once. So, if you plan on going home and are anticipating what’s to come or need some reassurance that your emotions are valid, here is one perspective on what it’s really like going home.
Saying goodbye is never easy. Leaving roommates you see everyday can be a sad ordeal, but the promise of being reunited soon is always reassuring. As you pack up and head to the airport, excitement may start to build as you anticipate being back home with your family. Seeing my mom in the car with my dog as she picks me up always brings a smile to my face. I can go home and throw my suitcase in the corner, give my pets love to make up for the last few months and embrace the simplicity of being back in the home I lived in for so many years — and I’m filled with so much peace.
The first few days at home are always spent indulging: sleeping in, having meals made for me and getting to visit all my friends and family in the area. It’s a nice feeling, as though there is so much time and so little to do. Watching TV shows I grew up with and making homemade pizzas, it’s as though I’m a child again getting to enjoy the simplicity of life.
After a few days, though, reality begins to set in. Unlike when I was young, I still have homework from intense summer classes and work to get done. Having put it behind for a few days, I find myself with stacks of work to do. As I spend hours trying to catch up, my family encourages me to take breaks and join them for movie nights. The frustration of others not understanding how much you need to get done can begin to rise, and it feels like no one at home understands what it’s like to be a student anymore.
Soon the questions begin piling in. Have you changed your major again? Why is your rent so much? Are you getting enough sleep? How are you always out of money? It can be a stressful feeling, as if every decision you make is being scrutinized like you are a child still expected to handle all these things as an adult. It’s a never-ending loop that I suspect will continue my entire life.
Before you know it, there are only days left before you’re set to return to school. With so little time, you begin to realize all you still haven’t done, the friends you haven’t seen, the places you haven’t visited and the food you’ve yet to eat. You try to squeeze all these things into your final days back at home, all while spending as much time with your family as possible before you return to school.
Then, as quickly as it first came, it’s time to leave. I’m once again packing my bags faced with the dreadful goodbyes — followed by hugging my family tight and promising Thanksgiving break will be here before they know it. I give love to my pets and explain that I’ll be back soon. When I wave the final goodbye to my mom, I hide back tears so she doesn’t worry — knowing she’s doing the same. I sit down on the plane and make the short trip home, which is always filled with time for reflection and gladness that I got to see my family. I feel excited to be back at school and sadness I couldn’t stay longer. But I’m also looking forward to seeing my roommates.
Although this trip is shorter than others, I believe any amount of time will never feel like enough. As I head back to my regular life in my little apartment, I can’t help but have a bittersweet smile on my face at how lucky I am to have two places I hate saying goodbye to.
Whether you’ve been home all summer or one weekend, and regardless of whether or not you love going home or dread it — you’re not alone. Going home brings so many emotions and feelings, and you definitely aren’t the only one feeling that way. So hopefully the next time you find yourself making the trek back to your family, you can appreciate all the highs and lows and know you aren’t alone in any emotion.