Moving Away From Your Childhood Hometown Friends For College

When I Leave For College This Semester, I'm Saying Goodbye To Both My Best Friends And My Childhood

In middle school, they helped me get through one of the most difficult times in my life and I really can't thank them enough for it. They would keep me distracted and entertained with all their antics.

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With move-in day quickly approaching, the hardest thing for me is leaving all of my friends. I've known them for as long as I can remember. They've been with me through everything and I love them. Of course, we had our share of obstacles that we needed to move past, but we managed to stay together.

Sometimes they're the only things that keep me together or sane, and other times they drive me insane, but I still love them, and I don't know what it's going to be like not having them by my side every day.

Adri was the first friend I made that became apart of the group that I know today. She's going to George Washington University which is about 202 miles away from Rutgers. My sister and her sister knew each other from pre-school and our moms got along really well so they got Adri and me together. We immediately became friends. Every day in preschool, she would leave in the afternoon and I would look out the window, sad that my friend was leaving me and I would have to find other kids to play with. We would hang out at her house at least once a week, pet her dogs and eat the dinosaur chicken nuggets that her babysitter made every day. From preschool, we went on to conquer elementary school, middle school, and high school together. Along the way, we picked up a few people.

The next person to join our group was Fiona, the genius of the bunch. She's going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which is around 247 miles away from Rutgers. We met her through Girl Scouts and from being in the same kindergarten class together. Fiona was extremely shy when we first met. I used to run around the playground and climb over all the equipment, while Fiona would cling onto her mom's legs and look at all the kids nervously. One of my favorite memories of our childhood was going over to her house and eating Annie's Shells and White Cheddar mac and cheese that her mom would make perfectly. To this day I'm still trying to replicate how her mom made it.

After Fiona came Karolina. She doesn't take crap from anybody. She's one tough girl, but she can also be a sweetheart. She's going to Montclair State which, thankfully, is only a little less than 40 miles away from Rutgers. We all "knew" her before she joined our group because she lives right by me. Whenever Fiona, Adri and I would walk home, Karolina would also be walking home, but not with us. She officially became a part of the group in third grade, when Adri, Karolina and I all had the same teacher. Karolina is like my rock. She keeps me grounded. When I'm being over dramatic or overreacting, she'll tell me and call me on my BS. In 5th grade or middle school, we would watch a show called "Whodunnit?" and eat popcorn on my parents' big bed. We also used to fangirl over Magcon boys and watch different videos or vines of them. Let's be honest, we still sometimes do that today, but to a lesser extent.

Next came Allison and Ally. I grouped them together because I don't remember which one came first, but they both joined the ensemble in 5th grade. Allison is going to The College of New Jersey which about 30 miles away from RU (Wooooooo) and Ally is going to Ohio State which is 526 miles away from Rutgers, not ideal but it's OK. I remember I was friends with Allison in Kindergarten because I went to her house once and the only thing I remembered about her house was the black and white checkered tile floor in her kitchen. It reminded me of a relative's house that also has a checkered floor. We might have been friends then, but we really became close friends in 5th grade. In middle school, Ally and I would gush over how cute the ICONic Boyz (a dance crew that was on Season 6 of America's Best Dance Crew) were and how Leonardo DiCaprio was so unbelievably gorgeous.

Last but, of course, not least, Brianna joined. She's going to Syracuse which is about 238 miles from Rutgers. I remember the day I met her so clearly in my mind. It was the first day of middle school and I was sitting in my industrial problem-solving class, twiddling my fingers. One of my friends at the time walked into the class with a girl behind her who was bouncing up and down with first-day excitement and nerves. Our mutual friend introduced us and the rest is history.

After that day, our friend group was complete. We would go into town (to my dismay) on Fridays and walk around with all the other middle schoolers and pretend that we were on top of the world. We'd walk into shops and look at clothes that we would never buy and, occasionally, go to Baron's and become a part of "those kids that hang around Baron's all the time." If we didn't go into town, we would hang out at someone's house and talk or play different board games like Monopoly or Clue.

In middle school, they helped me get through one of the most difficult times in my life and I really can't thank them enough for it. They would keep me distracted and entertained with all their antics. Like when Karolina and Adri used to always crash into each other (I'm not exactly sure how) and Karolina would freak out and think she has a concussion or when I played Hedbanz with Adri and we couldn't stop laughing about my question, "Does it make noise when it hits the ground?" which I thought was a good question because feathers don't make a noise that we can hear when they float down to the ground and the object that I was guessing was a jump rope.

Then in 8th grade, Brianna moved to a different town. It was close by, like a 15-minute drive, but still, I got a little taste of what it would be like when we all moved away for college. We'd see her occasionally on weekends, sometimes we would go to her or she would come to us. We'd text or call or facetime each other, but there were aspects of her life that I couldn't fully grasp because I wasn't walking the same halls that she was or driving down the same streets.

Finally, high school came. All of us changed in high school, whether we'd like to admit it or not. We all really became individuals that are part of a group, not just a group made up of individuals. We all made new friends, but we managed to keep our group as our home base.

With college here, it's hard to leave all of them. Each of my friends has played a vital role in my life. They all helped me get through family dramas that are still resonating today. They gave me support when I needed it and helped me take care of myself in my hours of need.

When we started to get our driver's licenses, we would go on drives around the Northside at night. We'd sing along to loud music and admire all the enormous houses.

Karolina and I work at the same cooking school which makes it 100% more enjoyable and results in hilarious situations. The other day, I was drying dishes and she literally yelled at the kids, "no more dancing!" When she walked into the back, she was so annoyed and I burst out into laughter. She looked at me like I was nuts. I told her that it was funny that she said that because it seems like something out of "Footloose" or "1984."

During the school year, Karolina would drive me to school every day. I'd get up at 6:15 or 6:20, get dressed, brush my teeth, maybe grab something to eat, and be out of the door at like 6:45 or 6:50. We'd get to school at 6:50 or 6:55, Karolina would complain about how bad the juniors are at parking and we'd be in a spot watching the sunrise. We'd always get out of the car and walk into the building at 7:15 or 7:20 and while we waited, we would talk about different things going on in our lives, or we'd rush to finish the homework that we never finished last night.

Recently, Karolina and I started hiking at a state park nearby, and it's become our thing. We'd get in a good work out and try not to fall on our faces, then we'd get in the car and drive with all the windows down at like 50 mph (the speed limit on this specific road is literally 45 mph), blasting chill music. All our worries would float away in those moments.

When Fiona and I were younger, we used to play two Wii games religiously: "Tanks" and "New Super Mario Bros." Both games are pretty simple, but we got really into them. Sometimes the games would get too intense and we'd scream "Mono a mono" or "Mono a duo" to say that it was one of us against one or two other enemy tanks. We started to pick it back up recently a few weeks before she left for school. Sometimes we'd stay up really late to try to beat a level on Mario or Tanks.

A common habit of Adri and I is to shop at Target. We go to other places but Target is like our second home of sorts. We always look at the clothes and the different furniture and house things. I always pick out stuff that I could put in my future home while we also joke around. Recently we bought the same pair of pants, we have yet to wear them at the same time, but she wore hers the day before I wore mine, and we sent each other photos of us in them. A while ago, we were with some other friends and we started pushing each other around in one of the shopping carts. Surprisingly, we didn't get into trouble. Another time, we went there with Adri's mom. We walked past all the board games and Adri knocked one over. She said, "whoops, sorry," and proceeded to pick it up, when she looked at it, she realized she actually knocked over the board game "Sorry" and we immediately burst into laughter that lasted for a few minutes. It was one of those "you-had-to-be-there" things. Sometimes we just go to Target if we're bored and we end up buying stuff we don't need. It's always a miracle if we walk out of there empty handed.

A common link between Ally and me was our Italian class. We were never in the same class until recently. In the middle of the year, our teacher left on maternity leave and was replaced by someone who was really nice, but the class was a mess. She would attempt to teach us but that never worked out. Most of the time Ally and I would just talk and give each other looks like "what the hell is happening" and "what is this class." There would always be something to laugh about and raise an eyebrow at or squint our eyes at.

About a year ago, I hung out with Allison at her house. We couldn't think of anything to do, so she came up with the idea to watch tv shows and movies from our childhood and I swear, it was one of the most enjoyable things that I've done while hanging out with my friends. One of the shows that we watched was Scooby-doo and I LOVED scooby-doo as a kid and I still do.

During my sophomore year or junior year, Allison and I had the same gym class. We were pickleball partners and we weren't too shabby. Allison carried us. She's really good at tennis so it carried over into pickleball. Me on the other hand, not so much. We were in a really intense game that was tied and it was for the junior varsity title or it decided who gets to go to the JV championship. All I remember was, I messed up. I saw the ball and I was going for it and I missed it, completely. I started laughing because it was pretty funny and Allison did too. I think that has to be one of my favorite gym class moments.

I think one of my favorite things that I do with Brianna, is we talk and we check on each other. At the beginning of senior year, I hadn't heard from Brianna in a while so I texted her something along the lines of, "Hey Bri, just wanted to check in and see how ya doing." Sometimes she calls me to say hi and other times she calls because she wants to talk to someone on her drive or walk somewhere.

What made it even harder to say goodbye, was the love that was shown on my birthday this year. It was the day after prom, and all my friends were at prom houses or at their own house, while I was in Pennsylvania with Fiona and two of our other friends who aren't in our core group. The clock struck midnight and it was officially my birthday, and the texts, FaceTimes, and calls came flooding in. I got a facetime call from one of my friends and when I answered, I was blasted with drunk and sober "Happy Birthday!"s and various other indistinguishable words and congratulations.

It was funny to watch and extremely heartwarming to know that despite most of them being a little bit tipsy, they remembered that it was my birthday and made an effort to send me love. This wasn't the first time that they've stayed up to say "Happy Birthday" and I've done that to them too, but this time around, it felt just a little bit more special than normal.

It's moments like all of those, that I'm going to miss. The small insignificant ones. The ones that, when they happen, I don't really think twice about.

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To My Family When I Come Home

I'm kind of an adult now, so I'm going to need you to be patient with me.
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About nine months ago, you left me in front of my dorm, tears in both of our eyes, all by myself.

As my first year away from you comes to a close, I'm getting ready to return to the nest. And I can guess you're either feeling really excited to have your baby back, or you are wishing the semester would last a little longer. But whether you're ready or not, I'm coming home.

It's been quieter around the house. You haven't had to drive to games, activities, appointments, and events for me. One less person to clean for, one less person to cook for, and one less person to feel responsible for. It's OK to admit that you've enjoyed it.

I loved my first year away from home. I tasted freedom like I never have before, and I would like to think I was safe and smart about it. I figured out how to take care of myself in every way, shape, and form -- I manage my own time, I feed myself, and I get myself from point A to point B. In just a few short months, I've learned so much about myself and the world outside of our little town. It has been an amazing experience.

I'm kind of an adult now, and as I adjust to life back home, I'm asking you to be patient with me. I have spent so much time getting used to a new lifestyle where I can make up my own rules and decide when I want to follow them, it may take me a while to remember how things used to be when I was here all the time.

Please remember that I just busted my butt academically in the two hardest semesters of my life and I'm exhausted. I don't want to think about classes or my grades or anything related to my major — I just want to enjoy my summer.

Don't get angry with me if I forget to put my dish in the dishwasher or don't do my laundry for two weeks — when I was living on my own, I could do whatever I wanted. I know I have to live by your rules when I'm home, but give me some time to adjust. I promise I'm not a slob when I'm at school — I'm just a college student.

I've been away from home for so long and there is so much I missed when I was gone. So please, let me pick that local restaurant I love for dinner and allow me to hang out with friends every night if I want to. I've missed the things I left behind and I'm only home for four short months, so I have to enjoy it while I'm here. I promise to spend time with you before I go back to school.

But mostly, I want to say thank you. Thank you for supporting me and loving me through all the tough times this year brought. All the phone calls, worried texts about my taxes, FaceTime sessions with the dog, and surprise weekend visits helped me survive my first year away from home. No matter where I go and how long I'm gone, I'll always be your baby and I will always appreciate everything you've done for me.

No more exams, presentations, meetings, or lectures. For the first time in a long time, I'm all yours. And even though I'm coming home now, soon I will be leaving again — so let me enjoy my time home with you.

Cover Image Credit: Mulpix

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Thank You, Freshman Year, For All The Memories

I will miss you.

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I remember always dreaming about college and imagining what it would look like. I anticipated freshman year of college since about 7th grade and imagined how amazing it would be and what wonderful and exciting things would happen. Now, here it is at the end of my freshman year and it's over. It is hard to believe that I will never get this year back, and the long-awaited freshman year has been completed. And while I am sad that it is over, and yet excited for the future years, all I can really think about was how wonderful this year was and all I am grateful for.

Thank you for the countless new faces. Never in a period of my life have I met so many people with different backgrounds. Whether we only said hi one time, or met awkwardly at some function or another, or maybe we still say hi every time we see each other, I am so grateful for all the new people that I can say I know. Each new person I have met has been an opportunity to meet people with new backgrounds and learn even more how each person is a new story. Thank you, freshman year, for all the many new faces.

Thank you for the new knowledge. I had always heard that college would be about enlightenment and knowledge, but I deep down assumed I already knew everything. This year has shown me that I, in fact, do not know everything and surprisingly know only very little. I am grateful for the different lessons I have learned inside and outside the classroom and cannot wait for more.

Thank you for the challenges. Freshman year was not only happy times. It was full of transitions, of grieving, of saying goodbye within so many hellos, of figuring out who I want to be and who I am, trying to feel known in a time of such unknowns, and adjusting to a new normal. Thank you for the hard times, thank you for the 1 a.m. tears, the late-night calls home, and the moments of uncertainty because it was in those times that I grew and realized how strong I am and can be.

Thank you for the memories. From late night walks to Taco Bell, to waking up 15 minutes before a final exam, this year brought with it countless laughs, unforgettable nights, and memories I will treasure forever. I always dreamed what Freshman year would be like but had no idea it would be better than I ever imagined. Thank you for the new friends that mean so much to me, for all the love I've learned to give myself and others, and the knowledge that there is still so much more to come.

Freshman year may be done, but I am so excited that college is not!

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