Going to college far from home was, and still is, one of the best decisions of my life. Though I’m a New Yorker/Jersey Girl at heart, I’ve come to love my Michigan home. I love the change of pace, and the plethora of new things to see and experience. Most importantly, this experience has stretched me and allowed me to become a much more independent person. I no longer rely on my parents; I am my own person. There’s no better time in your life to explore a whole new area of the world like college. While every other stage of life is dependent on job location, college is a time of freedom and adventure.
That being said, going far from home has its down sides too. Here are seven struggles of going to a college far away.
- If you forget anything, your parents can’t drive and drop it off to you.
Packing for a college far away is an extremely difficult process. You need to take enough to prepare for all events and seasons, but not too much to fill up the car. If you pack too much, it’s hard to bring it home at the end of the year. If you pack too little, it’s expensive to ship it to your dorm. While some people can grab forgotten items at home over a weekend, students far from home learn to live without whatever they’ve forgotten.
- You Can’t Just ‘Go home for the weekend.’
Due to cheaper in-state tuition, the majority of my friends back home attend a college in New York. I’ll often see pictures of them home on random weekends, catching up with each other and with family. However, for students far away, going home is not just a spontaneous event. Going home requires planning, time, and money.
- Holidays away from home are hard.
The worst times for homesickness are holidays. Although most people are at home spending time with family, you know you’ll be spending it at a friend’s house or on campus. Though both options are great, it’s still not home. You miss all your goofy family traditions, and the comfort of home. While holidays are notoriously dysfunctional, you’ll even miss the broken beautiful love that marks all family holiday home events.
- You have an ever-growing list of people you haven’t talked to in forever.
College can often have the “out of sight out of mind mentality.” Being so far away, it’s easy to lose contact with people from home. In addition, there is the problem of having ‘cooler college friends’ that understand you better, simply because, in the short amount of time you’ve spent at college, you’ve already gone through so much. Though it can be hard, it’s important to be intentional with maintaining friendships at home too.
- Transportation home is either difficult to find or expensive.
The farther from home you are, the harder it is to find a ride. When my parents dropped me off at college, they told me that they intended to drive to Calvin twice: once to drop me off freshman year, and once to pick me up at the end of senior year. Every other ride, they told me, was up to me to find. This always adds stress around holidays and summer break, as you struggle to find rides home. Sometimes you’ll be lucky to know someone to drive you home. Other times, you’ll have an awkwardly funny car pool horror story to share with your kids in the future.
- No one understands your hometown references.
No matter how much you explain, no one will understand the difference between New York bagels and Michigan ‘bagels’ (if you could even call them that) or whatever difference you have between your college home and your actual home. Sometimes you’ll see something that reminds you of your hometown, but realize no one around you will understand. Though you’ll snap a picture and send it to your hometown friend, it won’t be the same as having them there with you.
- You’ll never have one home ever again.
Coming back home over Christmas break, I began to refer to Michigan as my ‘home.’ Living far from home, you no longer have one home. Rather, your soul becomes fractured; with a piece stuck in every place you’ve ever lived. While it can be sad at times, it can also be wonderful. Each place carries a whole new set of friends, experiences, and adventures. Every place I’ve lived has altered me in a way that I would not trade for anything. Most importantly, no matter where I am, I’ll always have New Jersey, New York, and Michigan tucked in a special place in my heart.