I moved 600 miles away for college. It’s what I wanted and always knew I would do. I never wanted to stay where I grew up in upstate New York. I loved the people, but the area bored me and I just wanted to live somewhere different. Senior year of high school encouraged the mentality that happiness lied anywhere other than where I currently was.
I thought when I went to college in another state far away, I would live my best life and thrive.
I’ve always been an independent person, starting in high school, I loved doing things by myself. I went to Starbucks, the mall, you name it; alone. I loved my mom and brother, but I always went out with friends on weekend nights. Throughout the week I was either at school, the dance studio or the gym, so other than the weekends, I only went home to sleep. I never felt a connection to my home like some of my other friends did. I loved the people in my home, but I never had some personal bond with the actual house. I loved doing things and always staying busy.
I grew up in a very untraditional home. I live with my mother and my brother. My mom’s side of the family lives in a neighboring state, and I have not even met half of my dad’s side of the family. Thanksgiving consists of my brother, my mother and I going to a restaurant. We never ate at home growing up because of our crazy lives. My mom practices as a lawyer, my brother played competitive sports all year round and I danced competitively. Our family time consisted of going out to dinner when our practices ended. Despite not having traditions and being an extremely untraditional family, my family and I made up the three musketeers. We told each other absolutely everything and we still do.
When I began my freshmen year of college I never looked back. I actually didn’t come home or even have the urge to come home until winter break. Face-timing my mom and my precious dog about six times a day, and still having a completely different life at school felt like enough. I solidified terrific friendships that first semester which made me feel like college was home. I socialized every weekend like I would at home as well. I heard other students talk about being homesick and I just could not relate.
Then, I went home for winter break.
As soon as I got home to my family, friends and of course my dog, I felt a feeling I had not experienced for the entire semester. This was a feeling I never knew I was missing because I had never left home for a significant amount of time and then came back. That feeling, was a feeling of being whole.
At school I thought I felt whole. I thought I had this great new life. However, during winter break I appreciated my hometown so much more than I ever had. I loved being in Upstate New York during Christmas time and New Year’s. Snow surrounded me. I drove my car any where I wanted. I indulged in Stewart’s iced coffee again. Cuddled with my dog came in no short supply. At the end of those three weeks, I didn’t want to leave.
When I went back to school after this first winter break, something felt off. I now missed my home more than ever before. I missed the extremely simple luxuries of being home that you never realize until you don’t have them anymore.
I have friends here at school and I have an amazing boyfriend. I get involved in clubs, I go out, I live in a house with four amazing girls, but a small sense of belonging seems to lack. Whenever I go home or surrounded myself with family or friends from home, I know what that lacking piece is.
I never appreciated where I came from. I never called it anything special. College surprised me in the most unexpected way. I ended up appreciating my home-town, my friends from home and my family more than I ever had. You can’t compare your home friends and your college friends. You can’t compare your home and your house at college. You can’t compare the scenery from your home-town and your college-town. All of these things are equal, but so different.
During college I learned that you never know you needed something until you’ve had it for your entire life, and then don’t have it anymore. And for me, that was my home-town.