What It’s Like Going Home for the First Time After Starting College

It was like stepping onto a movie set. Everything felt so familiar, everything looked exactly the same. But there was something off, something different. At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Eventually, I realized that the thing that had changed was me.

At this point in the semester I’d fallen into a steady rhythm at school. I knew how to manage my own schedule, budget my own time, and there was no one to tell me what to do or where to be. Coming home was almost a step backwards— suddenly my choices of how I spent my time affected more than just my own life.


Being in my childhood bedroom was comforting, but also left me feeling detached. I had the best night’s sleep I’d had in two months, likely because I wasn’t sharing the room with a roommate on a different sleep schedule than me. Everything was exactly where’d I’d left it, and I was able to move through the space without thinking. But now when I say “I want to go home,” to a friend at school, I mean my dorm room, not my bedroom. My house will always be home, but it already feels like a temporary place to live rather than a place to return to.

Walking and driving around my city was like stepping into a memory. I hadn’t driven a car in two months, but I still knew every turn to get to my friends’ houses, every weird bend in the road. Everything was exactly the way I’d left it, but I was different. I’d come back changed, and my hometown was exactly the same.


Even just walking around the mall felt different. Yes, I did see people from my high school graduating class who’d also decided that the first long weekend of the year was a good time to visit home. There were people I’d forgotten about and people I didn’t want to see again. But I also got to see friends I’d missed, and it was easy to fall back into the old routine of our friendship. Laughing with them felt the same as it always had, and that’s a memory I never want to leave behind.

The best word I can find to describe visiting home for the first time is nostalgic. It’s much too dramatic to say that college has already made me into an entirely different person, but my routines and the people I spend my days with are different now. It almost felt like it was August again, and I was about to start my freshman year. It was comforting and familiar, but there was always something nagging in the back of my mind that something had changed, something was out of place, and that something was me.

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