It's impossible to put into words how I felt leaving my parents for college. Freshman year move in day was pretty much the worst day of my life: It was rushed and hot and I cried. A LOT. I remember feeling such an intense feeling of loss and hopelessness as I was pulled away from my mom and dad at the start of orientation. I remember wearing sunglasses to my first meeting to hide the fact that I had been sobbing moments before.
The first month of college was much of the same. I made lots of great friends and started classes and when I was busy, I was content. But when I was alone, feelings of loneliness and immense sadness and wishing to be home overwhelmed my thoughts. I spent many nights that first month crying. I cried to my parents about wanting to come home and to my friends about missing them and how much I missed the summer. There were many times that first month that I thought I had made the wrong decision, a mistake.
Flash forward to today: I’ve lived in Boston for more than a year and a half and, for the most part, it has been incredible. I have made wonderful friends, experienced incredible things, and learned so much both inside and outside the classroom. I have learned how to J walk like a queen, tune out the constant sirens that go up and down Brookline Avenue all hours of the night, and call Dunkin’ Donuts Dunks. I have found my place in my adopted home: I don’t feel like I’m wondering around aimlessly anymore, which I feel is always a good thing. I don’t feel like I made a mistake; I know that I made the right choice.
That doesn't mean I no longer experience homesickness because I do: I miss my parents, friends, and pets every day while I'm at school, but the way I experience homesickness has changed dramatically.
Unlike last year, homesickness, and subsequent feelings of loneliness and sadness, isn't part of my every day life anymore. They come in waves, like after someone from home visits or after I come back from home. It hits me sometimes after realizing I haven't talked to a friend in a few days or when I see my friend tagged in her roommates photo on Facebook or Instagram. It happens sometimes when I hear a song or when the dinning hall serves a certain food. When those feelings do come, I let them. I talk to my parents and roommates and friends about them. I'm sad for a few days and then feel better.
For a long time last year, I thought being happy in Boston at school meant that I couldn't be homesick and if I was homesick then I couldn't be happy at school. What I've realized this year is that you can be both. It's possible to be completely happy where you are and still miss home. You can miss your parents while enjoying the freedom of being away from them and just because you are having fun with your friends from school doesn't mean that you don't miss your friends from home.
Being away for college has taught me that I need to balance those feelings: I need to balance where I am and how grateful I am to be here with the tug of wanting to return home to the people and places I am used to. And I'm still working on it. I think I'll be working on it forever because the feeling of missing friends and family never really goes away. But I think with time, you can start to manage the feeling of homesickness so the feelings associated with missing someone or something aren't completely unbearable. I am living proof of that.