Why I Missed Home In College

Why I Missed Home In College

I was glad to be home for winter break.
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When choosing colleges this time last year I had three guidelines for myself:

1. Get as far away from Myrtle Beach as possible, don't apply in-state at all.

2. Go to a Liberal Arts School, don't want to be mixed with people with "realistic career goals".

3. Be in a city, preferably a cold one.

Being eighteen with the promise of freedom in my grasp I went so far to chose a school a timezone away and more miles away from my mom then I imagined. Myrtle Beach never really felt like home for me, from the moment we arrived I had always felt like it was against me. I hate the beach for one, so why not move 10 minutes down the road from it. I also am odd and enjoying being cold.

Searching for warmth or adding layers to become warm always sounds better to me then wanting to shed my skin in the blazing heat. I had never felt like I had a solid group of friends until the end of my senior year and after struggling for two years prior to "fit in" I was positive I wouldn't miss it. But alas I did, I found many people and reasons to miss the place I had hated for so long.

Although Chicago is beautiful and I have never been happier there, most days, I miss seeing the stars. Walking through the busy streets counting building lights isn't as interesting as counting the stars in the night sky. Sunsets and sunrises aren't the same between large skyscrapers as they are over the vast beach.

You're not giving the same blends of colors and there's too much in the skyline to notice anyway. Although I enjoy the cold I have missed wearing shorts for two-thirds of the year, for the obvious reason of absolutely hating to wear pants. I am glad to have finally been able to experience another fall because watching palm trees shed isn't as exciting as the wonderful earth tones springing to life in the brisk October air.

Another reason I missed home is again in college you're the new kid, but everyone is. It helps quicken up the friendship process, but it by no means quickens the right people to come around. I missed those I left behind and choosing to be so far away was hard when I had only been in Ilinois to see Columbia and surely didn't know anyone in the state.

Luckily coming home has allowed me to see my friends because luckily they're mostly seniors now. Lastly, I missed working, serving in Myrtle was possibly the best job I had ever had. I love all my coworkers and I love the atmosphere the restaurant has established. Not having a job in college can be terrible for never having money to do anything with as well as, for me, feeling worthless by not having a place to work.

All in all, reasons I missed Myrtle Beach now will most likely change next year when my friends aren't there and I now have a job for when I do head back to college. I will always miss the vast open sky and the heat, within my limits, but I will be glad to be back home in chicago soon.

Cover Image Credit: @travel.gypsy.photography

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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