I was the idiot who didn’t bring a raincoat with her to college. (TBH I didn’t even own a raincoat before college). So just imagine how walking to class the first time it rained went for me.
Picture this– the clock reads 10:50 a.m. when I rush out the door and hop on my bike to head to my 11 a.m. class. I put on my grey, University of Maryland hoodie in hopes that somehow the thick cotton and Testudo will bless me and spare me from the pouring rain. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. Not only do I show up to my 11 a.m. late, but also drenched from head to toe in water. I enter my class with pitied stares coming from all directions, and one girl even offered me her umbrella. I respectfully decline and explain to her how I wouldn’t be able to hold it since I was riding my bike…in the rain…with no raincoat.
Flashback a year earlier to high school me. It’s senior year and I’m thinking about where I want to apply to college. Obviously, I looked up schools on the other side of the country as far away from my hometown as I could possibly go within the U.S. borders first. Just kidding. I wasn’t one of those rebellious, angsty teenagers who hated high school and wanted to get as far away from home as she could. But at the same time, I had no desire to attend an in-state school. I lived in Maryland my entire life; I wanted that idolized college experience of moving away from home, starting fresh and learning to be on my own, which is exactly why I applied to schools out-of-state but close enough that a flight home would still be quick and affordable.
Well, surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen. A combination of rejection letters and the reality of how expensive college is smacked me in the face. I graduated high school en route to UMD, located approximately 34 (47 with traffic) minutes away from home.
Now let’s fast forward back to my freshman year: I always felt strangely guilty anytime I went home. As if for some reason going home was a sign of “weakness” or something — that I couldn’t handle college, or I wasn’t as independent as my peers who came to UMD from out-of-state. I had major FOMO anytime I went home. I always felt anxious to get back on campus. Yet on that sad, wet, rain coatless day, something changed. After the whole ordeal, I did what every sad college girl does when she has a problem and texted my mom. Being the amazing woman that she is, I had a new raincoat sitting in my dorm room within just a few hours. Maybe I didn’t realize it at the time, but that simple, slightly embarrassing and wet, event was the first moment that I began to appreciate attending a college so close to home.
Now that I’m a sophomore, I’m “over” (hopefully) my FOMO freshman stage, and I finally understand and cherish my close proximity to home. College wasn’t what I expected in a lot of ways, but what shocked me the most was how much I would miss home, even if I only went to school a short drive away. There’s this certain comfort in home that I can’t find anywhere else — something that I didn’t appreciate as a freshman. Coming home always felt like a burden then, but now being home feels like a relief. Maybe you chose to attend a school halfway across the country and it’s the best decision you ever made. Or, maybe you’re like me and kind of got “stuck” going to your state school. Either way, you’ll have your raincoat moment at some point. In the meantime, start fresh, live on your own and remember that living close to home while being able to having so many new experiences is a blessing. When you feel nauseous just thinking about dinning hall food, how the boy you liked blows you off or that time you got the freshman “plague,” you’ll realize coming home to a home-cooked meal and hug from your mom and pops are the best things you could possibly have. But whether you take a three-hour plane ride or 30-minute drive back home this Thanksgiving, make sure all your loved ones know how much you appreciate them…and raincoats.