You finally escaped the white picket fence prison you’ve been subject to your whole life. You’re off to a college town, the land of excitement and possibilities. But when summer comes along, you’re sucked back into the vortex. Having two disparate living situations back to back is discombobulating, to say the least. Whatever you felt about suburban life before leaving for a college town will multiply tenfold to give you a frame of reference. Prepare yourself—once you go back to the suburbs, these harsh facts will slap you in the face.
1. You Can Finally Enjoy Peace and Quiet
A big bustling city inevitably comes with tons of noise pollution, not to mention all the racket from dorm or apartment-mates, frat houses and loud college students walking around 24/7. Birds chirping or a neighbor’s dog barking marks the extent of the noise you’ll get living in the suburbs. People generally like peace and quiet, but coming from non-stop ruckus to tranquility feels a bit unnerving at first, like the calm before the storm. It’s quiet…too quiet. At least your noisy college habitat exposes the chaos out in the open, but with the suburbs, the quiet suggests something terrible lurking around the corner that’s about to erupt after a big build up. But you’re probably just being paranoid…right?
2. Say hello to your folks—again
Freedom at last! But, oh no, returning home for the summer leaves you back in the hands of your masters once again. Mom and Dad won’t be as receptive to you shot gunning beers in the living room as you might like. Also, college exposes many kids to a variety of viewpoints that may be frowned upon back home, leaving you to have ideological clashes with your parents as well. Once you get a taste of sweet sweet freedom pie, you can never go back to the old ways. The rules you endured pre-college seem ever more draconian coming back from a life without rules (except of course the Asher Roth rule: “don’t pass out with your shoes on”). The ball and chain will be re-cuffed and your days of college shenanigans are over—for a few months, at least.
3. No more party hopping
Unless you have super cool neighbors, you won’t be buzzing from house to house like a bee does to a flower in your quiet geriatric neighborhood. The old friendly couple might invite you in from some soda pop and snacks, but don’t expect it to be anything like a frat party. All things party in a college town exist for your convenience. You throw a rock and you’ll hit a party, and then it will skip and hit a few more parties.
4. Your Pig Sty is Gone
My room at school, along with many irresponsible college students, required a hazmat suit before entering. The aroma of six-week old milk filled the air. To a college student, spoiled milk smells like home, but your family most likely has higher standards. Unfortunately, suburban life calls for a tidier lifestyle, so expect not to live in your own filth and actually do laundry more than once a semester. “Back home my college living style does not fly. True freedom is throwing your dirty socks wherever you well please. This summer I am no longer a free man,” said UC Berkeley senior political science major Rex Escobar.
5. You’ll Get Bored
“When I’m home for summer I just lounge around the house. It takes too much effort to go out and do something fun, whereas at school the fun is right there,” said UC Berkeley sophomore chemical engineering Ramiro Rojas. Summer used to be the exciting part of the year back in grade school, but now it’s so boring compared to college life. A college town offers non-stop activity, while a suburb just doesn’t. You have to go out of your way to make fun, while the fun comes to you in a college town. Ramiro said, “I’ve spent way too much time just bouncing a tennis ball against the wall.”
6. Your Childhood Comes Back to Haunt you
Whether fond or horrendous, going back home sure brings back a lot of memories. Your memories of being prom queen/king or perhaps getting shoved in a locker will feel more crispe, for better or worse. Hanging out with childhood friends back home feels weird too, considering you’ve all just returned from a very transformative period of your life, one that you experienced without them. Also, you’ll reminisce over all the things you did as a little kid in the neighborhood that you thought were so fun, and realize just how dumb they were. Trip-wiring cars was fun in middle school, but now you know that it’s dangerous and stupid—or maybe not.
7. You Return to Civilization
Going to college means climbing down a step in the evolutionary tree. Acting like a baboon is totally permissible on a college campus, but back home not so much. prison. The type of people living in the suburbs usually have families and life experience, giving them a sense of responsibility. “I feel like I have to act like a different person back home. There is a social code for a college town and one for the suburbs, the former being much much more lax,” said UC Berkeley business junior Charlotte Jamar. College students are young, ready to party and have access to rivers of alcohol.
8. You Re-Learn to Drive
Driving isn’t like riding a bike: You’ll forget how to do it. In a college town, walking and public transportation will get you anywhere you need, considering you live close to most of your friends and fun things in town, but in the burbs you’ll schlep 40 minutes in your old car if you want to do anything. Don’t do college and then drive, because you’ll be forgetting all sorts of procedures from driving school days.
9. Your Go-To Munchie Places are Far Away
Restaurants in college towns cleverly locate near student housing, providing cheap and quick food to satisfy intoxicated desires. You can roll off the sofa with a deep craving for doughnuts, walk outside and then bam! Your needs are instantly met. Walking out of your parent’s house for some late night snack, no matter how munchified you feel, just won’t seem worth the effort. “It’s a catch-22. I need to get food when I’m stoned, but I can’t get it because I’m stoned. It’s just too far away,” said Rojas.
10. You Experience a Premature Midlife Crisis
Having a summer job was super cool in high school, but now it’s scary. Getting dressed in the morning, driving to your job or internship, coming home to your family and repeating it all week long warns of your life to come. You may surprise yourself with your maturity in the workplace and deeply reflect on the person you’ve become. Will I be a well mannered 9 to 5 suburbanite with 2.5 kids for the rest of my life? Do I only have four years to go buck wild? “I look in the mirror, I see a receding hairline in the future and wonder what legacy I’m leaving for my children that I haven’t even had yet,” said UW-Madison political science major Chet Edelman said. The taste of what it’s like to be a working stiff will linger in your mouth all summer.