Ah, fall. The time of the year where the craziness of summer is winding down and you can finally stop sweating to death (love you, Harter Hall). In my college experience thus far I have noticed that with the change of seasons comes a change of heart. Lately, my spirits have been resembling the leaves on the trees. As the leaves long for the sunshine and warmth of summer, I long for the comfort of home. What I thought was a typically freshman experience has crept its way into my second year here at UD: homesickness.
College is a weird time in a lot of peoples’ lives. All you’ve known for 18 years is lifted out from under you as you propel yourself into a brand new living and learning environment. New friends are made and interests are developed; a lot is learned of yourself and others. The expectation to automatically feel “at home” on campus, which is hard to attain. I moved across town in 8th grade and it took me awhile to adjust, and that was with my whole family by my side! While UD does a great job at welcoming students and making dorms and campus feel like a community, it is hard to deem a new place as “home” so quickly. Just when you start feeling comfortable in your dorm, it’s time to leave for a 6-week winter break. I love UD and all the opportunities it provides for me, the friends I have made, the professors that have made a difference in my educational career, and the experiences I have shared with others through common interests. I love being home where my dog and parents are always happy to see me and where I can actually drive without getting lost and turned around on one way streets.
As the months go on, ideas of what home really is start to get jumbled and you may end up feeling like home is nowhere at all. When the time has finally come to go home for break, expectations and reality do not always see eye to eye. Coming and going from place to place makes it really hard to establish some living permanence. A dorm room cannot beat the comfort of your own bed; your own bed can’t replace the late night shenanigans that ensue with your roommates. With all of this change happening at school, it can be shocking to come home and realize how much it has changed as well. The town that you grew up in feels a little different; who said it was allowed to change while I was away? All of your siblings may be back together again in one place for the holidays and you start wondering when “back together again” became the norm as opposed to just being together. Whenever someone visits me at school it is a reminder of how life used to be and how quickly it has changed. It’s not always a good or bad thing though, just a matter of growing up.
When you boil it down, home is a place where you are with people whom you love and who love you. There will always be people who care no matter where you are. The pieces from different places can be stitched together; a patchwork of home can be carried wherever you go. Little reminders of who you are and where you are from are an important part of identity. You can embody your own home wherever you are with that scarf you bought with your mom at your favorite hometown store, the UD sweatshirt you bought your first fall on campus, or the pair of socks your sophomore roommates got you just because.