As the new school year was fast approaching, many recent high school graduates were gearing up to attend college. They spent their summer thinking about the new experience they will have, worrying about the differences between college and high school, or being excited to leave home to a dorm or get an apartment near their campus.
I thought about all three of those things during my summer while I did what every other would-be college freshman would've done: I hung out with my friends, went dorm shopping, spent some time with family, and more. My freshman year of college came sooner than I expected, and my initial experience came with exposure to different feelings.
Taking up a work-study job at my dorm's dining hall meant moving in four days earlier than everyone else. I was able to enjoy the solitude of that time and was able to explore the university before some of my other friends. I walked through Green Street, tried to figure out the bus system, and went through the Quad enough times to not get lost while figuring out a way back to the dorms. There was no curfew or limit to where I can go; no need to call and update the family about my location after a certain time at night. I was excited about my new liberties, but I couldn't shake off a part of me that felt like it was missing something.
For almost all my life, I've never been far from family for too long. The longest I've gone without seeing my immediate family (my mom and my brother) was either my week in Vegas this past spring break or my eighth-grade field trip to New York. Spending one week away from family is incomparable to living away for months at a time; there wasn't that present reassurance that you'll be back next week. Sure, I can visit home much easier than some of my other friends, since my university is only a two to three-hour drive away, but coming home every or every other weekend can create a hole in my wallet and is just simply impractical.
On my first week away, I found myself calling my mom frequently. My reasons for calling ranged from telling her about what I needed for classes and the dorm, to simply missing having a conversation with her. For almost every chance I had, be it lunch break or homework break, I would be pressing her contact on the phone, subtly showing that I miss her.
I always knew deep inside that I would end up leaving Chicago, yearning for a new place to have a college experience with. What I didn't realize until now was that I have taken several things for granted. After leaving, I found myself missing the mundane and normalcy of everyday life at home. There are no more face-to-face conversations with my mom about how school went that day or bickering with my brother about the missing chips I was saving for lunch tomorrow. There's also no more home cooked Filipino food, playing with my uncle's dog Cody or lounging in the living room watching Netflix while my mom talked on the phone and my brother did homework.
There's no telling how things will go from now on. Is this homesickness a one-time thing? Is it recurring? Enough to become accustomed to the feeling, and only have it lingering in the back of my mind? One thing I know for sure is that I will be face-timing my mom later tonight and demanding pictures of Cody.