In a Buckeye world before Covid-19, students were contracted to live on campus for 2 years and then most moved to off-campus housing for their remaining time in college. I am not an expert on the way the system worked (for most people, excluding commuters and those who can escape the 2-year contract for whatever reason), but to my understanding you are assigned housing your freshman year based off your major cohorts, scholar's program, honors program, dorming with someone you know, or completely random.
As expected with little control of where you are going to live, your freshman year is supposed to be a weird adjustment period to being in a completely new environment and not being home anymore. This is a different experience for many. Some people are from the Columbus area, others from Ohio, the Midwest, the East or West Coasts, and even other countries. Regardless, Ohio State can feel foreign and it can be overwhelming because of its sheer size. Digressing, I found myself visiting my friends on North Campus a lot because I wasn't comfortable branching out yet. During many of these visits, I found myself hesitating when I would leave. I would purposely say "I'm gonna head back to my dorm" rather than the usual "I'm gonna head home." Maybe I was overthinking it, but I was simply not ready to cast away my "true home" in Aurora, Ohio and trade that up for my dorm and Ohio State's campus. Eventually, I settled in and began calling Columbus home.
Before freshman year ended, you were thrown into a random lottery system that dictated where you lived during the upcoming school year. That said, most people change dorms (or at least rooms). I decided to go home for the summer and babysat my little sister. Yet, I knew people who went on study abroad; internships; did the same as me; took summer classes or something else. Living at home for 3 months was not the move. It had me regress to my uncertainty of what home was, however I did come to appreciate my Columbus life and recognized that I now had something significant that I was excited about going back to: my other home at Ohio State.
The next year came, and I moved back into the dorms. That year went by significantly quicker than the last and by the time I knew it, I was moving out again. Where this time? I moved to off-campus housing because I elected to take summer classes. I moved into a 3-month sublease with a friend doing an internship. Shortly after, I moved into an apartment and here I have lived for almost 2 years. This bring my total college places I have lived up to a tally of 5.
The word home. There are many interpretations of this word, but the two I want to focus on are home as a place and home as a feeling. I moved a good number of times as a kid, with the longest place I called home being 7 years. I grew to associate the feeling of home with the time I called it my residence. College serves as a gateway to understand that all these little moves are training you for branching out. This is an epiphany I have recently realized in my post-college life. If your goal is to go to college and stay in your hometown long-term, that is okay. However, you should consider everything that this country and world offers. At this stage in our lives, we should take every sensible opportunity presented to move and experience something new, to build a new network and a new home. Your current home will still be here if things don't work out and you want to come back.
College was not the same this past semester, nor will it likely being the same this upcoming fall. This concept of home will alter and mean something new for all of those still in classes. Do not take your time in the dorms, off-campus, at Ohio State, and in Columbus for granted. Have fun with it and live a 6ft apart college life with as few regrets as possible, and not getting caught up in the purgatory of residence impermanence.
Home can be just a place, a feeling, or both. It is what you make of it, and a change to a new one does not replace; invalidate; or override any other homes you have had in the past.