Going into my first year of college last fall, one of the things I was most nervous about was living away from home. Unlike some people who cannot wait to get away from their controlling parents or annoying siblings, I was dreading leaving my family the most. Family is very important to me. Not only do I have a great relationship with my immediate family, I also live next door to my grandparents. So, when I looked for colleges, I purposely picked a school that was really close to home. Merrimack College is only 25-30 minutes away from my home. To some people, that might seem way too close. But for me, it was the best decision I could have made.
First of all, I can easily be visited by my family or come home to visit them. It was especially important for me when I had a tough transition the first few months of the year. If I was feeling homesick or anxious for any reason, my parents could come to bring me out to lunch or get me off campus for a few hours. It helped me tremendously to get adjusted because I could still stay at school, but I would get a boost after seeing my family. Also, whenever I need a break from school, I can come home easily to eat some home cooked food, pet my dog, and sleep in my own big bed. I still spend most of my time at school, but it is a nice safety net to be able to go home if I need to or have the chance to spend a long weekend at home. Tradition is very important to me as well. If I have to miss a birthday celebration or some other holiday, I would be sad, so it is nice to be able to come home for my grandma's birthday dinner or anything that involves getting together with my family.
Another plus is that I can also easily get anything I need very quickly, like an item of clothing I did not think I would need or a certain brand of hair product they do not have at the CVS down the street. I can also move in and out gradually because it does not take a lot of effort to drive to my campus. Therefore, I also can leave for vacations or long weekends faster because we do not need to plan out traffic. I know that my parents and grandparents also like to know that I am close to home for safety purposes and so that they get to see me more often.
To be honest, even though I know I am close to home and can easily get there in half an hour, it does not even feel like I am close by. Merrimack College is a smaller school, and it is pretty much in its own bubble. Even though I have been to this town before coming to college, I did not know everything about it. I still feel like I am going to new places and exploring a different area. I always tell my mom or dad on the drive home that on campus, it does not feel as close by as it is. I almost forget how close I am until I drive home and see that it took so little time to get there.
I understand for that some people, embracing independence and taking a break from living at home is what they look forward to most. Some people could easily spend their entire year away from home. Don't get me wrong - I am loving college. I love the people here, and I like to be independent. But personally, I need to see my family and take a break once and awhile, so being close to home is very crucial for me. I do not think I would have been able to stay at a school far away from home, and I am glad that my decision to stay close worked out for the best.
If you are starting to look at potential colleges, take it from me that if you are in my shoes, factoring in the distance from home is a good way to narrow down your choices. I am not saying that you SHOULD pick a school close to home, but it is definitely something to consider, especially if you are a home body or family forward person like I am.