October 18, 2013
First-year reflects on first homecomingIn the days before fall break, a strange phenomenon occurred. Even the least homesick of the first-year students could hardly think or talk about anything else. The reality began to set in that we were going home for the first time in seven weeks -- the longest many of us had ever been away -- and everyone started to talk like we'd been in prison for years.
My friends discussed what they planned to do first thing when they got home, and some made lists of meals they wanted to eat over the weekend. By the time Friday afternoon hit, I was as excited as anyone else. I was giddy knowing that I was going to sleep in my own bed that night and that I would get to visit my best friends the following day.
But in many ways, the break wasn't quite what I expected. When I got home, my dog didn't jump into my arms and lick my face -- she turned around and curled up on the couch, pouting all night because she didn't understand how I could go away for seven weeks and suddenly show up again.
My parents had organized my room and bought me a new bedspread, and everything was clean. There was a new refrigerator, and it was completely stocked. I really was a guest in my own home. I had to ask how to use the toaster oven, and I didn't know where anything was.
Things had changed. There was a new IHOP in town. My mom had adopted her foster dog. My dad had sold his car. But it didn't show me how long I'd been gone, it just showed me how much happens in a short period of time.
Now that I'm back, the seven weeks seems like nothing. I feel ridiculous for being so anxious to go home. It was strange seeing my friends because once we were gathered around the table, it felt like we had hardly been apart. I almost wished I'd waited longer to meet up with everyone again so that the dramatic "tell me everything" moments would seem justified.
Many of my friends were visiting our high school, so I decided to do the same, but again, I felt like I hadn't been gone long enough to be missed. The teachers weren't surprised to see me, and I didn't feel much different about being there than I had before graduation. I learned that college is fast-paced. I feel like a different person after seven weeks, with different hobbies and a new set of friends. It still feels a little like being at camp, like everyone's rushing to put together a routine and a lunch table. The difference is that when we go home, we come back.
In my perspectives class, we discussed that one of the hardest parts of going home for fall break was realizing that life at home has gone on without us. One of my teachers told me that the club I used to run is booming now, with twice as many members. My sister had to fill me in on who made homecoming court, and I couldn't believe I didn't get a vote.
After catching up with everyone, it was hard to leave. Before, I hardly ever thought about what I was missing in Woodbine, Md., but as I left on Tuesday, I knew a lot more about what my friends and family were doing in my absence. Not to mention I was leaving behind homemade pancakes and a great collection of DVDs.
Then I got back to campus, just in time for the Halloween parade. I met up with friends and met new people, and I got a great taste of what it's like to call Selinsgrove home. I think it will always be hard for me to get these glimpses of life at home, but fall break helped me, and I'm sure many others, come to terms with moving on and starting a new chapter. Like any other first, this break taught me what to expect for next time, and it reminded me that I have a lot to be grateful for both on and off campus.
FORUM HEADLINESStudent groups starts the conversation Finding home in new places Editors juggles friends and school work Travel reveals cultural shifts First-year reflects on first homecoming Graduate describes lifestyle after SU Chaplain's Corner