What I Thought I Missed About College While I Was Home for the Summer

What I Thought I Missed About College While I Was Home for the Summer

It's not just my friends, the parties and the freedom, which I guess I didn't really miss that much anyway.

Being a college student can be quite an experience. Classes aren't the same as high school. Parties aren't the same as high school. Life isn't the same as high school. Whether you're a freshman or a senior, whether you live on campus or if you commute, there are just some things about college that you miss while you're back home for the summer... and some that you don't.


Housing - While I was back home for the summer, I could only think about one thing: moving back into my on campus apartment. Living at home, I was constantly missing my freedom. I was missing having my own place. I was always with my family, doing whatever we always do as a family. At school, I have my own home. I can decorate it however I want. I can invite over whoever I want. I can come home at whatever time I want, with no one to stop me from doing any of it. If I want to fall asleep on the kitchen floor at two o'clock in the afternoon for absolutely no reason at all, I can. If I want to hang an old hubcap up on my wall and call it art, I can. If I want to let the garbage can get so full that it overflows all over the floor, I can. Unfortunately, now that I'm back at school, I'm realizing that on campus housing is one of the things that I definitely did not miss while I was living at home over the summer. I did not miss sleeping in a twin size bed. Those things are uncomfortable even for just me, and they're quite impossible for a sleepover. I did not miss the three foot by three foot shower space with a shower curtain that consistently attaches itself to my vulnerable body mid shower. I did not miss having a refrigerator that leaks all over the place and freezes everything within it. I did not miss the dishwasher that randomly spews soap bubbles out of every possible crevice until they have covered the kitchen floor. I did not miss the unalterable arctic temperatures in the buildings. I did not miss sitting in kitchen chairs that feel as though they could collapse beneath the wait of a nickel at every meal. I did not miss having an oven who's front panel is literally dangling on by a thread. I did not miss having a shelf in my closet that is almost too tall to reach. I did not miss having to sign into the building every night when I return home. Most importantly, I did not miss having to prove to someone, weekly, that I am in fact still maintaining life on my own and that my roommates and I have not yet died or set anything on fire.


Dining - Being home for the summer, my schedule got a little crazy and I often found myself skipping meals or eating super unhealthily. Come midnight (and sometimes even later), the only dining options available, if any, are unappealing fast food places, or whatever junk food one could find in their pantry. All summer, I found myself saying things like "If we were on campus right now, we'd be at Birch," or "If I was back in my apartment, I know I'd have something better to eat." A week and a half into being back on campus, I am starting to realize how much better off I was at home. I still have yet to go grocery shopping and have been mooching off of my roommates for days. I went to the freshman dining hall (not by choice, but because it was the only thing that was open at the time, and found myself eating curly fries and cucumbers at every meal. I am currently awaiting the perfect opportunity to ask my mother to take me grocery shopping so that she can buy me things slightly healthier than the Taco Bell I ordered at 2:15 this morning. As much as I hate to admit it, I regret how often I took advantage of having home cooked meals prepared for me and having common household ingredients replaced without me having to buy them.


Work Load - Over the past few months, I had been working a decent amount. I started my summer working thirty hour work weeks. That slowly increased to thirty-two and thirty-six hour work weeks. It eventually became thirty-eight and forty hour work weeks, and I ended my summer with a fifty hour work week. I would wake up in the morning, get ready for work and arrive by 11:30. I would work until 5:30, return home, get ready to go to the gym, work out for an hour or so, and return home, yet again, to make dinner (or eat the dinner that was already made) and go to bed, only to awake the following morning and repeat it all over again. I often complained about how busy I was and how little free time I had for myself, even though I had weekends off. Now, I am attempting to take six classes and working three jobs, while being an undergraduate teaching assistant and holding an e-board position for an organization that I am involved with.

I realize how easy my summer actually was, and I find myself wishing daily that I could have that schedule back. I want to work one job and relax on the weekends. I want to come home to delicious meals already made for me. I want to wake up in my full size bed to find that my mom has folded my laundry and that my dad has fixed the things that I lead him to believe that I was incapable of doing on my own. Although I am excited to be back at school with my friends, and I am eager to continue to prove myself as an adult in the real world, I do miss being at home.

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A Letter to the Girl I Was 3 Years Ago

"Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on but you keep going anyway."

  To the old me, 

The girl who worried too much about what other people thought of her, the girl who didn’t know what she was worth, the girl who was scared to be alone. 

I know it’s hard, you’re just starting out high school and what people think of you is SO important. You want to be accepted, you want to be liked. You alter the person you actually are, because you want to be the person everyone loves. Stop. It’s not worth it. In a couple years it won’t matter what everyone thought of you, because majority of those people wont stick around after you walk across that stage at graduation. They don’t care about you that much. Be yourself, because that is the best version you can be. You are beautiful just the way you are, you are special just the way you are. Be confident in who you are. Once you stop caring what others think, you will feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders and you will never want to go back.

And YOU, you are worth SO much, and that will be your biggest weapon one day knowing that and being confident in that. Stop letting people walk all over you and define who you are, and stop settling for less than you deserve. LOVE yourself first, CHOOSE yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself, and the one with the big Man upstairs. The mistakes you have made, and will continue to make, will never define your value as a person.  Once you discover your self value, you will know what you deserve and what you don’t deserve.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:13-14

I cant stress this enough: it is OK to be independent, it is OK to be alone. Honestly, you wont figure this one out for a while. You will go through relationship after relationship depending on guys for your happiness and that will be your source of self-validation, and that will get your heart broken at times. It happens, and its OK to learn from it. It is so important that you grow out of that, though. Work on yourself while you have the time, make yourself a better you for the right person that does come along, but most importantly, make yourself a better you for YOU. Be dependent on yourself and your faith for the happiness that you crave out of other people. Stop putting yourself through the heartbreaks, and just settling because you are afraid of being alone. Embrace it, and take advantage of it. 

To the girl that is the girl I used to be-

It’s never too late to realize things need to change. It’s never too late to rid yourself of the negativity, and all of the things holding you back. You got this, I believe in you. Take it from the one girl who never thought she had it in her to become stronger. 

To the old me-

I wish that I could go back and hug you and let you know that you are so loved. You are so worth it. You are so special. You CAN do this. Everything you are going through and will go through will be so worth it, and to never EVER give up no matter how much you want to at times. I wish that I could’ve told you in a few years, you will be mentally and emotionally stronger than you have ever been, and everything that you are going through is just a phase.                                                                                  Life isn't always perfect. Life isn't always easy. Life doesn't always make sense, but thats the beauty of it.

Love,

Me, today. 

  



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Walking Through Campus In The Dark Made Me Realize Girls Should Be Helping Other Girls Feel Safer

I'm forever grateful for the girls who helped me feel safe.

If you're a girl, chances are doing certain things, like walking alone in the dark, can be kind of scary.

I needed to walk from the dorms to the Greyhound station downtown to catch a 7 a.m. bus, and if you've ever lived in the Pacific Northwest in the fall, you know some mornings it isn't light until almost 8 a.m. or later. I am not a morning person and neither were any of my friends, so I knew I would probably be going alone.

There aren't a lot of people out and about that early in the morning and, being a girl in today's world, walking alone in the dark makes me nervous.

I planned on calling a cab, but when it didn't show after 20 minutes, I knew I was going to have to walk. As I started walking, I thought about all the horror stories I've heard on the news, all the times I've been harassed and followed by strangers on the street, all the places I was walking that weren't well light or were in commercial areas with businesses that weren't open. I didn't have pepper spray, I don't know a lot of self-defense, and I felt like all I could really do was keep my head down, walk fast, and hope nothing bad happened.

I was more worried than I care to admit but I didn't really have any other options.

I was walking past Gamma Phi Beta's house, with my phone flashlight on and silently counting the blocks until reached the bus station, and at about the same time, two girls were leaving the house in workout gear, like they were headed out for a run. What caught me off guard was when they asked if I was okay and why I was walking by myself. I explained that I was headed to the Greyhound station and no one else was awake, so I was on my own.

Without any hesitation, they offered to walk with me, so I wouldn't be alone.

I can't even put into words how relieved and grateful I was. If they asked if I wanted them to walk with me, I probably would have said no because I wouldn't want to mess up their plans or be a burden, but they offered.

When we were walking, it felt like walking with friends, not like two friends begrudgingly walking a stranger as a favor. We talked about majors, binge-worthy Netflix shows, classes, and when we reached the bus station downtown, we went our separate ways.

I don't remember their names and I don't know if they'll ever know how much that meant to me, but I still think about it, over a year later, and it reminds me how important it is to look out for and support other girls.

Since I feel like I never got to thank them properly, I do it the best way I know how: by paying it forward. When I have the opportunity to do something to make another girl feel safer, whether that's walking with her, checking in with her at a party, or otherwise, I think it's important to do it.

No one understands the struggles girls face just by existing in our f*cked up world quite like other girls. It is so important for all of us to do our part to support and protect our community.

If you have the opportunity to help out someone else in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation, do it. You have no idea the impact it will have.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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