For most college students, being homesick is a painful, but normal, part of the transition. Being away from their families and homes, usually for the first time, can be a highly stressful time and a huge transition.

Similarly, I faced many of these obstacles when I moved away from home to the dorms of San Diego State to begin my freshman year, away from my house, family, and many of the friends I had maintained since kindergarten. However, I was also forced to overcome a rarer breed of transition when I moved away to start my college career. When I moved away from my home in Carlsbad, CA, I was also leaving behind my other half…literally.My identical twin, Mirabella (endearingly known as Bella), and I decided early on in applying for colleges that we would not attend the same one. Our entire lives, we had been lumped together, attending the same schools and being in the same classes, making the same friends, and eventually even both participating in many of the same extracurriculars, from our high school dance team to ceramics classes. People we did and didn't know simply referred to us as “the twins," banishing any notion of us as individuals. And while much of this, throughout my life, had been a blessing (I essentially had a built-in best friend), we both agreed when applying for colleges that this was the time in our lives that we needed distance from one another to grow and find our own paths without each other, without the shadows we sometimes (intentionally and unintentionally) cast on each other.

The transition to a life without always having my twin sister by my side has been a journey, one I am still adjusting to. As I chose to go south from our childhood home to San Diego State, my sister chose to trek 5 hours north to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Now, there is the homesick I feel when I think about missing my dog, my parents, my older sister, my dad's cooking, and my own (clean!) bathroom. Then there is the ever-present homesick I feel at the pit of my stomach when I miss my twin sister; my best friend, my favorite human, my confidante, the one who laughs and cries at the same things I do, my biggest protector, the only individual in the whole world who will ever literally understand exactly what it feels like to be me. This homesickness is unlike any sadness or obstacle I have ever had to face in my life; an emptiness that can only be described as feeling as though you are missing your other half.

However, the feeling of freedom and possibility I have discovered as I look at my life and what lies ahead of me is indescribable. Although I know I will always have Bella as my biggest support system, 500 miles away from her I have begun to learn what it means to truly be myself, standing alone. I've been forced to shed the dependence on her that I had comfortably cocooned myself in for much of my life, and without it I have found, as she has too, a new sense of self. And although I know she is always just a phone call, text, or train ride away, my life on my own without her has finally begun to feel like just that; my life.