Coming Back Home From College Isn't What You'd Expect
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Coming Back Home From College Isn't What You'd Expect

You're not the same person that you were a few months ago.

Coming Back Home From College Isn't What You'd Expect

I was extremely prepared for what I was to feel when I went to college. Everyone who had already braved freshman year was sure to fill me in, and I read hundreds of blog posts that had the central idea of what the first week of college was like. I was ready for the homesickness. I was ready for the culture shock. I was ready for the loneliness that would eventually give way to new friendships. I was ready for the homework. I was ready for tiny showers and tiny dorms and sharing a bathroom with strangers. I was so ready. I felt that I needed no other knowledge when it came to college and all the things it entailed. I was mistaken, simply because I was not prepared for what it was like to come back from college, which was almost as shocking as the initial leap into freshman year.

The first weird thing was packing to go home. Growing up, packing is associated with leaving the comforts of your bed. Now, I was packing to go back to it? Didn't make any sense. I was sitting on top my suitcase desperately trying to stuff all my clothes in it, and my only thought was, “This just feels wrong." But, I brushed it off and set my mind on figuring out if I could maybe fit another sweatshirt in my bag.

It only got stranger, though. When the lights of my town penetrated the windshield of the car, I didn't feel what I thought I'd feel. I expected everything to look, to feel, different. I felt that I had changed so much just in one semester, that I had seen so much and experienced so many new things, that I would be seeing my town with different eyes. I thought I had gained a perspective that I had previously not had, the perspective of an outsider. But, when I saw the population sign, I felt nothing. Upon entering the town, nothing seemed any different. I guess I was so wrapped up with the idea that I changed, that I forgot my surroundings did not. If that makes any sense.

And then the homecoming. My parents seemed the same, my dog seemed the same, even my annoying little brother seemed the same. And yet, I felt like a completely different person. It was very conflicting. It's so odd to think about the fact that I have a monumentally different life, miles away, that they have no idea about. They don't know about my Oceanography prof that blinks too much. They don't know that my dining center has terrible casseroles but pretty good chicken pot pie. They don't know my roommate and my new friends and the fact that I set off my smoke alarm three times because I'm really bad at making popcorn (apparently). They know who I was, but they have no idea who I've become. And where do I start? Soon after coming home, we all sat down for supper and the first thing I was asked was, “So what's new?" How the hell do I come at that question? Everything that has happened to me since I left is new. Do I start with my mean WRIT professor? Maybe my wonderful World Literature professor? Or perhaps do I begin with a comment about how terrible the coffee is at my school? When they say, “What's new?" do they want to know what's new within me, or what's new that has happened around me? Two completely different answers.

Lying in bed that night was strange. It didn't feel comfortable. I couldn't hear my roommate scribbling away at her homework late at night. I didn't hear laughter from down the halls, as most dorms are never quiet. I had forgotten my pillow back in my dorm, so my neck was crooked. My nightstand was to my right, but in my dorm, all of my things are at the head of my bed on the built-in shelf. It just felt wrong, which also surprised me. I thought I would feel more at home in my room, but my dorm had become too familiar.

And then, finally, meeting up with high school friends. On first awkward hugs and shared laughs, it seemed normal. Everyone seemed the same. But when we were sitting at a table laughing over a card game, I realized something. We had all spent four months at completely different locations, surrounded by people none of our hometown friends had met, doing things we couldn't possibly catch each other up on. Not only did my parents have no idea who I've become, but it was very alienating to realize that my best friends didn't, either. We all had two completely different lives in two very different places. It was hard enough to ditch my old life when I went to college, but I was not prepared to do the same when I came home.

Because that's what one has to do, isn't it? Come back from college and pretend like you're the same person. People ask you what's new, but they don't realize that the answer to that question is “everything."

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