As my first summer from college comes to a close, I find myself going through many of the same emotions I went through a year ago. Although I have a year of college separating me from my life at home and the life I now have, this past summer has felt like nothing has changed. Coming home to friends and family is an amazing feeling, and getting right back into the swing of things is even better.

Knowing that the relationships that I have spent the past 18 years building are still as strong as ever, despite enduring distance and being an awful texted is very comforting and grounding. Despite having an entirely different life half-way across the country that is newer and often more exciting, I truly love my life at home. These past few weeks have reminded me of how much I value my friends, of all the good memories we have made together.

I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to come back to my old life. However, as my summer comes to an end, I am faced with saying goodbye to my friends a second time. Although it is sad to see everyone go, my emotions this year are slightly different.

Even though it feels like nothing has changed, everything has. My friends and I have spent an entire year apart from each other, living out totally different experiences. The fact that we came back from across the country as if we have never left, makes me unafraid to say goodbye a second time. For us distance truly did make the heart grow fonder, and I know that another year doing our own thing, building our own lives and making more amazing memories apart from each other does not mean that we will grow apart.

This year I say goodbye optimistically, excited for what is to come, knowing that it won't change what we already have.