By SUMMER PERRITT
Photo credit goes to aarp.org.
Moving to college was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. Despite my excitement, I still remember my insanely fast beating heart and lurching stomach. I recall having the thought of, “I can’t do this. I don’t have to do this. Take me home.”
And I was one of the kids who couldn't wait to leave their small hometown.
But then, about an hour into it, I realized that I was fine and that I could do this after all. After a week, I started to really enjoy college, and by the time a month passed, I had forgotten what my hometown even looked like. Other than the occasional bout of sentiment or feeling of nostalgia, I didn't miss home at all because I had found a new one at my university.
The people I saw everyday became my new support system. The table I ate at for lunch became my new hangout, and the clubs I joined became my new hobbies. Of course it wasn't always easy, but I quickly grew to love my environment as I grew into a new identity.
My school, Mercer University, has only 4,570 undergraduates. Carley Jordana, a rising sophomore at the University of Florida, said going to a bigger school presented an even different challenge.
“It was challenging to feel at home in a school with over 52,000 students because everything is constantly changing,” Jordana said. “But I quickly found people I could relate to, and I became more comfortable with myself and with my new life.”
Having to leave that all behind for a three-month hiatus can be difficult to adjust to and simply uncomfortable. Initially, moving home seemed exciting as the stresses of spring semester were weighing down. But then, as I packed up my things to leave, anxieties and uncertainties began to set in. How do I readjust? Will it be the same as before I left? Will my life at college remain in tact while I’m away?
Matthew Ezeh, a fellow freshman at Mercer University, lives in the same town as our college but still felt like he’d be leaving things behind once he moved back home.
“While I was excited to be done with schoolwork, I really love college and the freedom it brings,” Ezeh said. “I felt like that freedom would be dialed back a significant amount as soon as I got home.”
Like many students, moving home just didn't quite feel natural anymore to me. For the first week home, I didn't want to spend time with my old friends because it wasn't the same as hanging out with my college friends.
I didn't want to eat at my old favorite restaurant now because I liked the local eatery at my university better. I seriously contemplated going the whole summer without unpacking my boxes before I realized I couldn’t spend an hour each morning digging around for an outfit to wear. My college life was all neatly packed up, but reality required clothes hangers.
How do I readjust? Will it be the same as before I left? Will my life at college remain in tact while I’m away?
I didn't want to let go of my college life because some part of me was afraid of losing it, as if committing to life at home was like giving up the new life I had created at college. However, after I began to rediscover some of the things I used to love about my hometown, I felt like I was being torn in half: the college me and the home me. Which was real, if not both?
How do we balance life at home with the new one we’ve created far away?
“I’m hoping as I progress through college the two lives will eventually become one,” Ezeh said.
The difference is that we’re different now. Our old lives may be the same, but college has given us new experiences that shape our perspective. This perspective may not be compatible with the environment we were raised in, and that is a hard but true fact of becoming an adult.
However, that is not to say it is impossible to make the best of the situation. I found that my time at home has also given me a new perspective, or rather, reawakened a way of thinking that I had lost along the way. The best way to combine our two worlds is to respect them for their differences and adopt which aspects we determine are best for our personal growth
“It is important to enjoy whatever place you're in. Take the values you have from home to college with you, and bring the worldliness of college home with you,” Jordana said. “There are always ways to grow wherever you are.”
Fully embrace the home you are in -- whether it be college, your hometown or wherever life takes you -- but decide what is worth carrying with you along the way. After all, home is where the heart is.