When I first moved into my dorm during freshman move in, I thought something felt off. I couldn't seem to get myself settled, feeling anxious or off as sat in my dorm room at night. I brushed it off as simply adjusting to being away at college. But the feeling never seemed to fade away. A whole year later, I still can't seem to get comfortable. Sure, I have an established routine, I have friends, I have a physical dorm room that I live in, but I don't have a home at the University of Chicago.
It's a strange feeling, not finding a niche. Whenever I go home or visit friends, everyone always asks "Are you liking school?" For a while I would smile and feed them the lie I thought they wanted to hear. I loved it, can't wait to go back. But then I came to the realization that my lies weren't really benefitting anyone. They didn't change my opinions about school. Telling people I loved the University of Chicago when I didn't in reality didn't make it an easier to get on a flight to go back. For a while, I was embarrassed to admit how homesick I was. It felt like I'd be conceding defeat if I told people how miserable I was at college. I would look at the Facebook profiles and Instagrams of people I went to high school with, and everyone seemed to be having a fantastic time except for me.
It didn't take long for me to start to consider transferring, but whenever I would bring up the idea to people at UChicago I was often met with a dismissive "Oh, everyone goes through that phase here." I don't want to go to a school where it's normal to consider transferring. That's not a normal or healthy environment, and it's certainly not the right one for me.
I have a difficult time explaining the specifics of why I don't like the University of Chicago sometimes. While there are certain specifics like the quarter system which make life here a lot more difficult, overall there's just a negative aura that, at least in my mind, consumes this school. It's a gut feeling, just like one I would try to describe to my parents when we went on college visits during high school. It's hard to properly articulate it, something just feels wrong. I've tried to change a lot about my college experience in the past year: I changed dorms at the start of my second year, I got a job, I joined a sorority. All of these things have certainly made my time here better, but it hasn't made the underlying feeling of discomfort vanish.
I have fear of missing out, fear of missing out on a happy college experience that I'll love to reminisce about someday. I don't want to look back after graduation and just think "I survived. Glad that's over." I want a home, but I don't know if it's possible that I'll find one here at this point.