The Importance Of Home When You Go To College

When Your Hometown Becomes A Special Place

When the girl who could not wait to leave home, cannot wait to visit home.


They say you do not know what you truly have until it's gone, and I learned this very quickly when I got to school at the end of August. Waking up in the same place every day for the past 18 years gets old… being in senior year classes with people who were in your kindergarten class, rotating between the same couple places to hang out, eating at the same few restaurants, developing the same old routine, taking your family for granted because you have lived with them full time for all your life… it is all too familiar to the soon-to-be college freshman. But let me tell you… everything that was once so routine - so boring will become things you will forever cherish the second it becomes the past. The predictability of each day that drove you crazy will provide you with immense comfort when you have spent months stepping out of your comfort zone. Having somewhere to go back to that you got to know so well, and quite frankly, too well, is something you will be forever grateful for. I have been at college for just over two months, and I have already found this to be too true.

By the end of my senior year, I was itching to leave my small town in Connecticut. It is the only place I have ever lived - all I have ever known. I have always been one interested in travel and adventure; I have wanted to broaden my horizons and find myself by seeing life through a larger lens. With this mindset, naturally, I wanted to go to college out of state. And I am so glad I did. Going to a large university with a student population of over 30,000 has been a challenge, but something I needed. Meeting people from all over the country - all over the world - having new experiences, becoming more independent. That being said, all these changes at once can get overwhelming. A new school, new people, new classes, new way of life, new 'home'... all things that take a lot of getting used to and, at times, can become pretty stressful. Fully adjusting to this amount of changes in just a few weeks is just not natural. It takes months, even years. When you take a moment and think about that place you called home all your life, you couldn't wait to leave; you feel a sense of comfort. Being immersed in an environment where the majority of people around you do not know your name can make you feel so small. It makes you remember you are no longer in high school, no longer in classes where you know everything about everyone, no longer at home.

The first time I visited home was for Columbus Day weekend. Hopping into the car with my dad and being greeted by my dog at the door made me feel like I never even left. Reuniting with my best friend and driving around our hometown and all the places that were once part of our daily routine (literally… every day) but no longer are made me nostalgic. Coming home for the holidays makes the best time of year that much more exciting. Reuniting, reminiscing, sharing stories, making new memories, and even parting again makes you appreciate the place you once could not wait to leave behind.

Being so far away makes you appreciate the little things… meals at home, going shopping with your mom, waking up in your own bed, showering without shoes on (a blessing), hopping in the car to pick up a couple of friends, spending that extra time with your family - THOSE are things worth missing. School is great, and I am off to create many more memories and learn many more things, but having a place of comfort and predictability that you can always come back to is necessary for adapting to somewhere new. Moving on is healthy - it keeps you from getting stuck in the same old rut and getting way too comfortable with one small bubble you call life. But coming home once in a while reminds you of where you are from and makes you appreciate how you got to where you are today... and all the people along the way. You will be surprised when you realize the place you had all along begins to occupy a special place in your heart suddenly.

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How To Get The Most Out Of Studying Abroad

Tourist traps are traps for a reason

Mo Havey
Mo Havey

Recently, I went on a short, university lead, study away trip to Austria. I went with a close friend of mine, and if it weren't for him joining me on this trip, I believe I wouldn't have had as much fun as I did.

Although our professors found us some great tours and museums to explore and listen to, it sucks sticking out as much as you do when you're in a plainly obvious tourist group.

Some of my fondest memories from this trip are from the times where we could do what we wanted--with telling our supervisors where we were headed off course. Here are some tips on getting the most out of a short-term study away trip.

1. Break Away From Your Group

It felt like the majority of our group was scared to break away from our professors leading the group, and seldom joined us on our nighttime excursions.

Yes, you're in a country that you've never been to before and you don't speak the language, but if all you do is stick with your gigantic tour groups and head back to the hotel and go to bed at 10 pm, you're not going to experience the culture--you're only going to see and watch instead of feeling and doing.

It's the 21st century, you probably have a smart phone with a maps app, and you probably have your professor's contact in case you do get lost or in trouble.

If there is something you want to do, speak up and say it, someone will almost always want to join. You have to break away from your group and do activities or else all you're going to do is take pictures and say you saw the Belvedere Palace.

2. Eat Out of Your Comfort Zone

Yes, the food is different than what you're used to. Try it. The cuisine is a big part of any culture, and if all you eat is the equivalent to a chicken patty the entire time you're there, you're missing out.

Some of the best food I've ever had came from butchering a name on the menu, not knowing what I ordered. You might never get the chance to eat it again, so go for it. If you hate it, then that's all apart of the experience.

3. Find Your Typical Activities Abroad

Something my friend and I wanted to do off the bat was to find an Austrian hookah lounge. We knew it'd be an easy way to immerse ourselves in with the locals without putting us in an uncomfortable position. It was something we were familiar with, but oh so different.

If you frequent sports bars, find one abroad; if you go to the farmer's market on the weekend, find the local one; if you're a crafty person, find a craft store and buy craft supplies you wouldn't be able to find back home.

For me, I stopped feeling uncomfortable and alienated once I stumbled across a gay pride festival; I finally started to feel not as a tourist, but as a visitor. Being in a familiar situation will ease you into the culture without giving too much of a culture shock.

Mo Havey
Mo Havey

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.


1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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