Last fall was my first semester at my university and things had been going so well. I had settled into classes, met new people, forged new friendships, and tried new things. My life felt like it was finally going where I wanted it to go. In college, I finally feel in control of my own destiny. However, when fall break rolled around and I said goodbye to my friends one by one, I realized that I wouldn't be going home like they would be. I felt detached from my home.

My entire first semester, I didn't go home once. I didn't even go home for thanksgiving because my brother and I thought that it would be too far. Instead, we visited family in Chicago for fall break and went to my aunt and uncle's house for Thanksgiving. I love being in a new environment, but I think it's made me realize how much I love spending time with my parents. I know that a lot of people say this, but they really are "the cool parents." My mom and dad flew across the country from California to Virginia for parents weekend when a friend of mine's parents didn't come from a neighboring state. They hosted a tailgate for my brother and I to bring our friends. They genuinely care about the people we've met here and the journey we're on. They know how much the University of Virginia means to us because they met here when they went to school here. It filled me with pride when my father leaned toward me and told me "I'm so proud of all of the friends you've met here. They're all good and motivated people. That tells me a lot about your character and your goals."

My parents have always told me that the people I surround myself with the most, I become most like. However, I just want to be more like them. They inspire me to work hard and they've made me the person I am today. I think that's why it's so hard to be so far away from them. Being with them feels like home.