5 Things You’ll Leave Behind When You Start College

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With a football game this weekend, all you can think about is what you’ll wear to the tailgate. Or maybe guilt kicks in and you opt for extra study time in the library. Your new college life will demand most of your thought capacity. And that’s absolutely fine. But don’t blow over the small things. Call mom when she asks how you are. Let dad know what you do with your time nowadays. Keep in touch with old friends and appreciate the people and friends that meant a lot to you before moving on to campus.

Read on to relate to what we unexpectedly miss when we move out for college.

1. Late-Night Drives

High school gave you hundreds of memories that stir up every emotion in the books. My favorites always involve he ones cruising around town in my old Subaru with my friends. We blasted Lorde and pretended we could relate to her angsty ballads or sing our hearts out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sometimes we had a destination like the latest movie or Chick-fil-A. Other times we just drove.

As a teenager, driving is one of our only freedoms. Between school, jobs and family, we don’t get that much time to ourselves so the liberty to decide where we go and when is something we treasure—just as long as we return with car by curfew. Lots of freshmen don’t bring cars to campus. It feels as though we’re stuck with our childhood modes of transportation: feet, bikes or buses. Face it, we’ll all miss our cars more than we’d expect, even if gas drained our minimum-wage pockets.

2. Furry Friends

It’s an honor when our dogs ask us to rub their bellies or when our cats rub their heads against our legs while we try to walk. Out of all the farewells when it comes to moving away, parting ways with our pets is one of unexpectedly tough goodbyes to face.

Maybe we love our pets because we can act as goofy as we want and vent all our drama to them without fear of judgement. It’s possible they actually do judge us but at least they can’t say come out and say it. Whatever the case, pets are the best hot towel to the head when you feel under the weather. Nothing beats a late night cuddle with a furry friend that loves you more than anything. In your dorm, the closest you’ll get to your furry friend is a faux-fur throw pillow.

3. Your Childhood

You miss pretending you’re a superhero on the school playground. And you would do anything to ride on your dad’s shoulders again without throwing out his back. An urge to return to our younger years arises when we find ourselves reaching a proverbial growth spurt. Starting middle school, ending high school and applying to colleges overwhelmed me with memories of the past.

We love remembering when everything seemed easy because we hate thinking about the bills we’ll need to pay with the scarce money we earn from our minimum wage jobs. We don’t know if we’ll ever land our dream job, earn the degree we work like dogs for or if we’ll even pursue the same major next year. Truthfully, some of us feel too scared to move forward because we become too comfortable with what we already know. It’s safe and unchanging. With that said, if you didn’t understand The Catcher in the Rye in high school, then you should by now.

4. Outdated Bedrooms

Some go for a  minimalist vibe with a plain white comforter and gold accents. Others slap posters of indie bands and polaroid pictures on every inch of the dorm. Ultimately it’s all up to you. Your room back home may represent your style well enough but the chance to start over on a clean slate doesn’t come very often. It may seem of little importance, decorating your dorm, but we all got a rush of excitement when choosing colorful throw pillows and bright desk lamps.

It’s not just our rooms either. We love personalizing laptops and water bottles with stickers that show off our quirks. My roommate’s laptop is marked up with stickers of Vine references and social justice issues. One look at her laptop case and you’ll know everything you need to know. All these knickknacks also serve as security blankets for when we feel homesick or lonely. There’s solidarity in surrounding yourself with things that remind you of yourself.

5. High School Drama

Every high schooler has at least one bit of drama to share. More often than not it involves a cat fight or relationship blip that seemed like the end of the world at the time. One particular troublemaker in my group of friends nearly ruined prom weekend because she couldn’t stop bullying our one friend. We survived the weekend, but the hostility lasted until graduation. A month of passive aggressive snapchats and nasty back-talking passed. But it’s all water under the bridge now that we head in different directions.

At your new school, you get to start fresh. That means meeting people you actually like rather than staying with the same group of friends you’ve known since kindergarten. This in part depends on the size of your school, but the independence of choosing your friends without worrying about their reputation or the latest gossip on them won’t have any influence. You get to experience the best four years of your life with your new best friends.

BONUS: 6. Parental Guidance

We all love mom and dad despite their cheesy jokes and endless life lectures. As much as we adore them, we will definitely love our space from them as well. You can go and get that tattoo your old man would never approve of or eat an entire bag of chips for breakfast because no one will tell you otherwise. Think about it, no longer sleep under their roofs. In theory, we aren’t under their rules either. That is, until winter, spring or summer break…

On a more serious note, not having our parents around will teach us a lot about ourselves. We’ll talk with our teachers on our own and tell the doctors what kind of stomach ache we feel without looking to our mom for the answer. Other than that, you’ll see the lessons they taught us reflected in yourself. I always do my homework first then relax after watching my dad do the same for years. I can’t help but tip extra at a restaurant because my mom champions generosity. When we move out, the best thing we can do for our parents is become the best version of ourselves. After all, we turned out that way because of them.

Kaitlyn is a freshman at the University of Maryland. She loves writing, driving around town and being curious.

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