When students start look for colleges, many choose schools across the country, eager to move to different places, in hopes of discovering new experiences, new cultures, and new friends. I, on the other hand, always knew that I wanted to stay in my native Chicago. I grew up just outside Chicago, and I knew that venturing not too far into Lincoln Park, at DePaul University, would be the place for me to spend my college years.
Going to school less than thirty minutes from home made me realize – no matter how close you are to home geographically, your home lives and your school lives are completely separate. With my close friends from high school scattered all over the world, I started over in college, creating close friendships with new faces, and becoming a true citizen of the city that I once just frequented on the weekends.
The summer before I left for college, my parents started to be more lenient, letting me stay out later, and giving me more freedom, which made the transition from high school to college easier, so I wouldn’t go crazy with all the newfound freedom. Even so, you can’t just leave home without a word – you need to clear plans with your parents and let them know where you are.
Coming home after the end of freshman year was a challenge. I was faced with the sudden reality that I was no longer living in one of the biggest cities in the US, and was back in my suburban hometown, that just doesn’t have the same excitement as my city-surrounded campus does. Especially being car-less at home, I long for the freedom that having a “U-Pass” for Chicago’s public transit system, offering free rides during the year.
Unlike many of my friends, who had gone to school further away, DePaul attracts many of its students from the Chicagoland area. Having so many of my college friends close by presents a problem – my home life and my college life had always been separate, and now they were intertwined. I’ve been trying to see my high school friends the most, because this is really the only time we have together, but …
Perhaps the greatest thing about college is just how much freedom you have. If you don’t want to go to class, you don’t have to. If you want to go out on a Tuesday, you can. You can truly do anything you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want. At home, I have to factor in family time and events with my parents, who I don’t see for a good part of the year. Even if I don’t have a family event going on, parents have a wonderful ability to make their kids feel guilty for not spending time with them, or they worry, so I feel like I have to be home.
I love my home – my friends, my family, my house, my town – but in truth, I really do miss college life.
Edited by Diana Pearl