I go home more often than most of my friends at college. I know this. I make the four and a half hour trip back to my tiny hometown from school usually around once a month, whether we have a break from school or not.

Sometimes, if there's a reason I need to be home for something, I go more often than that. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm from the middle of nowhere, I'm used to driving for a long time to get to pretty much anywhere I want/need to go.

I really enjoy being at home, just like I really enjoy being at school, so why do I feel bad about being in my hometown every time I'm there and it isn't a break from school? Why do I feel embarrassed about telling my classmates that I'm going home, feel like I need to justify it to them? I shouldn't have to do this, but I do because other people make me feel weird about how often I go home.

I get comments like "oh, you're going to be gone again?" and, "Hey, weren't you just here?" or, my personal favorite, "Don't you have work you need to be doing? How do you have time to come/go?"

You can see why this might be annoying, even if people mean well. Let me tell you why I go home so often.

There are several reasons, but one of the biggest is that most of my family lives in my hometown. I don't just mean my mom, dad, and sister, I mean my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, all of those people — and we're one of those families that's really close. I'm not going to not go see them regularly.

Another reason I go so often is because that's when I get to see my boyfriend of three-and-a-half years, who goes to college five hours away from my school. I also go because I like being home for big events, like the high school's big spring musical, which I used to be a part of, or the giant fall festival. I don't want to miss out on the things I loved about home just because I don't regularly live there.

But I think one of the biggest reasons I go home is actually because of UVA culture.

I love UVA. I love the people, the history, the tradition, the classes — everything. But it's a lot. The culture there is that you need to be perfect and you need to do effortlessly, even if you're actually dying inside. No one at UVA wears pajamas to class; everyone gets dressed and dresses up, even on casual days. Everyone came from the top of their high school graduating classes; four of the eight girls I live with were the valedictorian at their high schools and I have no doubt that that's pretty close to representative of the actual stats of who's on Grounds.

Everyone is smart. The classes are hard. You work hard, then you play hard, and you never let anyone see it if you can't keep up with that.

And, to be honest, sometimes I just need to get away from that.

Those four hours in my car driving back home are so therapeutic. They help me shake all of that off. There are times when I can almost physically feel a weight come off of my shoulders during those car rides by myself with the music blasting.

Then I get to my house where my mom is waiting to take care of me because she missed me and my dogs are jumping and barking because they missed me. Everything is just like it used to be, but different because I'm different, and I love that.

I come home a lot because sometimes the pressure of UVA culture is too much for me and I just really need to be away from it and be somewhere I'm not expected to be anything but myself for a little while.

So yes, I am going home again, classmate. Yes, person from home, I am back and, you know what, you're right — I do have work to do.

But let me worry about that. I can do work at home or work ahead before I come. I'm just happy to have somewhere I love so much to come back to.