Coming To College Makes Going Back Home A Little More Special

I Always Wanted To Leave Western Pennsylvania But Now In College, I Always Look Forward To Going Home

Every small town kid who goes to college in a major city knows exactly what it feels like to go home.

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If you asked me during my sophomore year of high school where I would be in four years, I would have said something along the lines as, "just far away from here."

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I always felt isolated from the rest of the world. Life away from suburban life always excited me with all the different possibilities and opportunities. I was blessed enough to get the opportunity to travel to Europe when I was 10, and even then, my parents took every weekend practically to travel to Pittsburgh. Now, I understand that Pittsburgh is nowhere like London or even New York City, but it had enough excitement that made life in high school worth living.

If you would have asked me to describe New Castle, Pennsylvania a year ago, I would have said the following: middle of nowhere, most avoid at all costs, and ultimately worth just driving by.

To be honest, I am only close with one girl who I graduated with. We were always friends since like junior year, but we definitely grew closer when we both went away for school.

Yet, in three weeks, I will be going back to where I grew up and I am so excited.

I am excited to see my parents, my dogs, and my only friend from high school. We already have plans to eat at our favorite restaurant and make our annual Sheetz run since we only really see each other twice, maybe three times a year now. It's a little ritual that always makes me feel connected to where I grew up.

Being in college, I know have grown to love my hometown. Every small town kid who goes to college in a major city knows exactly what it feels like to go home. It is where you have your own backyard, no Uber or Lyft available, and where you see deer more than people out and about sometimes. It is the place that allowed me to grow and search for opportunities away even if it was a big risk. Plus, my parents live there, so home is honestly wherever they are for me.

I use to have such a deep-rooted hatred for my hometown because I never felt supported in my ambitions and dreams. Many people when I voiced what I wanted for myself, would tell me I was "being unrealistic and needed to bring it down a notch because New Castle kids never leave New Castle."

Now that I'm away, I'm nothing but grateful. Sure, there were a majority of days I was just ready to leave Western PA. It's the place that made me for who I am today.

Who knows. I might not even be at Temple University if it wasn't for what I went through during my time there.

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You're at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You're probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you're calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you're walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You're convinced you're ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You've already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you're an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school's name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I'm telling you right now, you're going to miss it all. Everything you've ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald's hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you've seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You're going to miss them more than anything. I'm telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You've got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life, it's truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it's the little things you're gonna miss the most. Don't take it for granted because soon, you'll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You've got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You're going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won't.

So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You've got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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6 Neopets Stories That Could Have Been Real Books

If I can still feel the pain after 15 years, it should have been a real book.

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As a young writer, I spent countless hours both reading and (mostly unsuccessfully) writing for The Neopian Times- a feature of Neopets.com that allowed young children to express their creativity through stories, comics, and articles. While I will absolutely not be sharing my own (few) published works to the greater public, there are a few stories that I think back to often and wonder what ever came of the authors.

1. "Sleeping Beauty"

Read it here!

My body image issues didn't begin until a couple years after I read this story, but the author tackles them very well. The protagonist is unable to see herself as beautiful, and it destroys her; it takes over her life. That's definitely something that young teens and tweens can relate to.

2. "My Vacation" (and others by jeanaet)

Read it here!

This author had a theme of writing stories about her own Neopets, and her stories were always quite entertaining to read. Her characters were always getting into exciting adventures with some emotional moments mixed in as well.

3. "Superficial"

Read it here!

One of the first series I came across, this story introduces Maybelle, who has generally always had good fortune in life, but also showcases the aspects of her life that are less than ideal (her distant relationship with her mother) and her struggle to make friends because of assumptions others make about her.

4. "There Is No Cost to Friendship"

Read it here!

This is one of the last series I remember reading. In my original review of it (on one of my Neopets pages for which the account has been deactivated) I mentioned that I constantly forgot I was reading a Neopets story when I was reading it. Some more great themes about assumptions and friendship!

5. "Playing the Part" (and others by precious_katuch14)

Read it here!

I had the hugest celebrity crush on Kat when I was in 5th-6th grade. I used to print her stories out and read them all the time, and even made a DeviantArt profile to have another connection to her. The story I was most obsessed with was "Playing the Part", a story featuring her own Neopets. I used to write my own versions of the story featuring my pets, and sometimes act the story out with my dolls.

Kat, I hope you're doing well these days.

6. "They'll Never Hear a Word We Say" (and others by sytra)

Read it here!

THIS STORY. Sytra is one of the best authors I have ever read work from, the only author who made me shed real tears over this website. This story in particular and its sequel, I felt such a strong connection to. I printed it out and even did a book report on it in seventh grade. The stories reminded me strongly of Lauren Myracle's "The Winnie Years" series, which I discovered around the same time.

"They'll Never Hear a Word We Say" ripped my soul apart and put it back together multiple times over, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sytra, I hope you're still writing things, and if you come across this, please inform me where I can purchase anything you've written professionally. As in the days of Neopets, I will read every single story.

Do you remember any of your favorite stories from Neopets?

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