Senior year of high school is often the year when you are most comfortable with life. You’re familiar with the area you live in, you live in the comfort of your home with family, and you have established friends and school status. Then what comes next? College. When thinking about where you want to go or could go, the cities and campuses seem to glisten in front of you like the sun on the top of water. There are so many choices and so many new experiences to be had, so why not go far from home? Unfortunately, yet fortunately for myself, I experienced what it’s like to go to college far from home and what being homesick truly means the hard way.
Having never left my house in Oregon for more than a week at a time, I figured that going to New York for college wouldn’t be hard. Everyone telling me “Wow that’s so far!” or “Are you ready for the flights?” or “You can’t stand home huh?” never seemed to hit deep enough for me to realize the depth of the decision I had made. When the summer before college began and with orientation on the horizon, going over 2,000 miles from home was still no big deal to me. I had always grown up to be independent and enjoyed being alone so going to college in New York still seemed like the perfect option for me.
Orientation rolled around in June and my mother and I were off to visit for the week. That is when things begin to set in. Upon arrival, everything was exciting and new. I spent the time seeing the town and getting to know the landscape that would soon become home for nine months. It was a rush of excitement. The first day of orientation came and went in a flash and that was when reality seemed to set in for the first time. I balled the second day having realized my inability to see my family and how truly alone I’d be in a small town with no family or friends around. I wasn’t sure if I was capable of handling this next step in my life.
After coming home from orientation, I focused on enjoying the rest of the summer with friends and family before my big move. Summer, as it always does, went by like the speed of light.
Next thing I knew, my parents were helping me move into the tiny box with cement walls that would become my sanctuary in the coming year at my new school. After finishing the move, it was time for my parents to leave and that’s when it all hit me again. I balled while giving them hugs and tried to contain myself long enough so they wouldn’t be concerned. The upcoming week was welcome week, a time for making new friends and establishing yourself within clubs and jobs on campus, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to get myself to participate much because I was not okay inside. I had never been so far and so alone.
Throughout the year, as I gained more strength to put myself out there, I was able to make a solid group of about eight friends that I really enjoyed spending time with. They eventually helped me forget about being over a day’s drive away from home. The year went on and I learned more and more about myself and what I valued and wanted from life. Even though I had always considered myself to be a “lone wolf”, I craved social interactions and most of all, my family, home and love for the state of Oregon. I realized my parents, grandparents, and sister were only getting older and further from me, and that didn’t sit right with my heart and mind. Being homesick had never hit me so hard. It was then that I realized that home isn’t always where you are geographically. Home, for me at least, is where my loved ones are.
I eventually decided to transfer to a school closer to home. Transferring to a school that is closer to home in which my family and friends are around has been the best decision that I have made in my 19 years of life. Going from multiple flights adding up to about six hours of flying compared to the Arizona to Oregon flight of two hours makes me feel better. I am able to see my family about once a month now sometimes going home on the weekends.. Now I am able to see my sister more as I can come home whenever she is able to get the time off. Being able to travel back and forth and being somewhere where I thrive academically, mentally and physically without homesickness holding me back is easily the best part of my life. Home is different for everyone, but I found my home after learning what I needed it to be filled with.