What It's Like Returning Home After 3 Months at School

Thanksgiving 2018 was the first time I returned home to Chicago since the end of August when I went to college. Prior to that, I hadn’t been away from home for longer than four weeks since, well, ever. When I said goodbye to my house, I distinctly remember thinking, “See you in November!,” but also thinking how close by November was— I didn’t even register that it would actually be a long time before I went home.

Everyone says that time flies by in college. Maybe it does but, at least in my experience, the time before Thanksgiving was the longest ten weeks of my entire life. It’s one of those things where the days dragged on but the weeks flew by, so everything felt so much longer than it actually was. When you’re at college for the first time and you’re meeting new people and taking new classes and learning how to live in a new city, usually away from your family, you don’t realize how much energy and exertion that takes. I cherished talking to my friends from home and to my family and getting little updates about home.

I was counting down the days until Thanksgiving break as soon as the calendar turned to November 1st. That time at college is one of the most difficult times for everyone because you’ve been away from home for over two months, your classes are running you ragged, and all you want to do is go home, sleep in your own bed, and see your old friends.

Driving home from the airport, walking into my house, and seeing my pets and my brother was much less anticlimactic than I thought. Truthfully, the weirdest part was walking into my kitchen and seeing that my family got a new refrigerator! I got to sleep in my own bed which was so blissfully quiet, nice, and BIG (but shoutout to my roommate who I absolutely adore), but waking up the next day felt normal. I drove up to the suburbs -- which was an experience, because let me tell you, driving after three months takes a little bit of adjusting.

I would drive down the streets of the city and it would feel completely normal, and when I was in bed at night, I would think about college and it wouldn’t seem like a real place to me. It was like in my mind I thought I had gone away to camp for 3 months and now I was back home. I thought about sleeping in my dorm bed and I couldn’t even picture what that was like.

Seeing my friends was one of the best parts about going home because even though I love the friends I’ve met at college, there’s truly nothing like the feeling of seeing the people I saw almost every day for over four years and picking right up where we left off. Saying goodbye this time around was less bittersweet because we knew we’d all be back in three weeks.

I was visibly upset the night before I left to go back to school because I had gotten into my routine at home and I couldn’t even think about going back to school. But, then the weird thing was that once I got back to school, home seemed like a distant memory as well. I got to my dorm, unpacked, and got right back into the swing of things, but the best welcome home present was when my roommate walked through the door, because then I TRULY felt like I was home.


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