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In these last four-ish months, we have completed yet another semester of college. In that time we have worked hard academically, we have missed a class here and there, we have skied Breckenridge, we have sung under Red Rocks’ stars, we have fallen in “like” with somebody, we have changed and we have grown. On behalf of these experiences, thank you college for taking me away from home.
In between those commas and moments of triumph/failure over this last semester are the differences of what I like to call “going home and coming home.”
I, for one, am a total homebody. I need my home base. I need my sisters, I need my parents and I need the bed that has yet to reject me. That home is 1,016 miles away. Every one of us has a number like this. For some this number is 20, and for others it is 2,000-plus. This number is the distance from where you grew up, and that place does not exist here.
So where are we now? This home is different from that one.
In this home, no one can manage the hours you put into academics, or the number of absences you have, the days you choose to ski, the money you spend on concert tickets, the people you surround yourself with and the way that you will indeed change and grow. What you learned in that home is yours to take with you and bring into this new home, that’s what I considered to be the most exciting part of moving and why it was the only think about when looking for moving companies to help me on my solo journey. I tried to a bit of research to find the best movers and more importantly, ones that would fit my budget. As a student, budgeting has become one of the major determining factors for many of my decisions.
This notion complicates the definition of home. Nearly nine out of the 12 months in a year are spent here, in this new place. But can these four years in college even begin to rival the childhood spent 1,016 miles away?
Many people talk about these college years as being the most pivotal and influential in a person’s life — the time that you realize who you want to be and possibly decide on the direction you want to see your life go in. If this is true, then why do I miss home so much?
I have found that in the back and forth of being in Boulder, Colorado and Los Angeles, California, something is always missing. When I am here at school, I miss the constant support and love I receive from family and friends at home. At the same time, the things I felt and experienced at home in California do not exist in the same way that they used to. As I have continued to grow, so have the people and places in my life. And when I’m there, I miss the freedom here at school, as well as the support and love from my new chosen family.
This is something I’ve struggled with in the year and a half I’ve been in Colorado. I cannot begin to describe my gratitude for the opportunities I have been presented with, starting with the privilege to go away to college, but home is truly where the heart is, and mine is very split. The things I have experienced here, from friendships to finals to fuck-ups, have continued to shape me, because I still am very much growing up. That’s not something that stops just because I’m out of my childhood home. I have come to understand that this struggle of figuring out where and what home is now is just part of the growing pains that college brings.
Here are a few tips that have helped me cope with being away from home:
1. Get involved
Being in a new place, it is easy to feel alone. If I could go back to freshman year, I would encourage myself to get involved with something on campus that I am passionate about, the way I have today. Joining a club or getting a job can really change that empty feeling.
2. Reach out
At college, there are times when you might feel pushed out of your comfort zone. It is hard to ask for help — do this anyway. Reach out to someone close to you, because chances are they are also struggling to feel successful in a new life.
3. Stay in touch
All those words in your high school yearbook are not worthless. Stay in touch with the people that were important to you back home. Keep them in your life in the small ways that you can. Share with them what makes you happy here. And for goodness’ sake, call your mom. Sometimes an over-the-phone hug is all you need.
With another set of grades in the books, what will you do next semester to feel more accomplished? More connected? More at home? The 1,016 miles feel a lot closer when there are that many reasons to love and appreciate being at college. Try working a bit harder in 2015, missing one less class, skiing one more day, singing one more song and fall crazy in love with someone. Have silly conversations and serious debates. Let yourself be influenced and grow positively. Look around you, for now, this is what home looks like. Don’t let a second slip away.
Contact Staff Writer Dani Pinkus at danille.Pinkus@colorado.edu.