One year ago I was counting down the days until I left home to start my new life at the University of Pennsylvania. I had been thinking about college for many years, and the time to start my college experience was finally approaching.
I remember sitting in my room where I spent hours looking up absolutely anything and everything I could about college. Many days were spent checking and rechecking my class schedule -- I would often daydream about what a day at college would be like. I spent my final weeks at home obsessing over what I needed to have for my dorm room. I even spent a good amount of time going through the Facebook page for my new class and stalking my future classmates.
Just about every aspect of my life revolved around the college life that was awaiting me. Looking back now, I can understand my excitement, but I can also see where I missed some opportunities to enjoy my last few weeks at home. To those of you who are in that place that I was in a year ago, there are some things that I want you to know.
When you finally do arrive at college, it is going to be extremely exciting. It is going to be like nothing you have ever experienced before. You are going to meet all kinds of new people and form new friendships. You will also get to enjoy the novel experience of living with your friends every day, which I can tell you right now is really fun.
Your new journey will be exciting in many ways, and that excitement will be so overwhelming that for a time you won’t even think about home. Sure, you will probably think about your family and it will be difficult to say goodbye to them when the time finally comes, but for a while you will be so engrossed in the excitement around you that it won’t really sink in that you have left home and started a new life. For a while, it will feel like you are away at some summer camp and you will soon return to your real life at home.
After a while, though, it sinks in that you are not going home. It sinks in that you have a new home and that things in your life have changed drastically. If you are anything like me, this will be a tough pill to swallow. I had spent many years of my life dreaming about college, but I had underestimated how difficult it would be to leave my family behind. I didn’t believe people when they said that I would get homesick; I believed I had prepared myself for the experience and that I would be fine.
I was not fine. For a while I had to keep myself busy so that I would not think about how much I missed home. I would count down the days until my next break, and I found that I was not enjoying the college experience as much as I thought I would.
This was my reality for a few weeks, and it was rough. Time went on, though, and with each passing week I found myself feeling better and better until I finally got to the point where I was alright. I was comfortable and even excited about my new home again because it really had become my home. I learned that I could still keep in touch with my family as much as I wanted; they were just a phone call or text away, and finally I was having the happy college experience that I had always dreamed about.
My experience did get better, but I still think about how hard it was during that time. When I was preparing to leave for college just one year ago, I was so focused on getting there that I didn’t spend enough time appreciating the place that I was leaving, and when I finally did get there and realize that my life had really changed, I regretted not spending every moment that I could enjoying the home that I had known my entire life.
I am not saying that you should not be excited about college because you should be. Your college years really will be some of the best years of your entire life. What I am saying is that you are coming from a place that allowed you to get to this point in your life one way or another, and that should not be neglected amidst your excitement for college.
Over these next few weeks take some time to enjoy your friends, your family, and the place that you have called home. You will have plenty of time to enjoy your college experience while you are there, but when you start to miss your old home, you are going to wish that you had done everything you could to savor the time you had there.
This is an exciting time in your life, and you deserve to enjoy every bit of that excitement; just try to remember that there are other things in your life that are important too, and you might find yourself wishing you had spent more time appreciating them when you leave. Congratulations on making it this far. I hope that you enjoy the next few years and soak up every bit of your college experience -- both the good and the bad.