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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal State Chico chapter.

Do you know what the hardest part about going to college is? This is going to sound corny, and I know not every person can relate, because not everyone has been as fortunate and lucky as I have. 

Missing your family. 

Growing up, I remember going to my friends’ houses to hang out, and I sometimes ended up staying for dinner. I would love to try my friends’ families’ cooking, not that it ever compared to my mom’s. But I was always shocked to see that not every family sits together at the dinner table every night. I remember thinking to myself: “When do they have the time to talk about their days? Where do they hang out?”. Growing up, I realized that not every family was or is as close as my family. Truly, I think we are so intertwined that it could be scary. 

Without fail, every single night, my family ate together at the dinner table. The dinner table was a place of love, a place for reflection, a place to laugh, a place where I felt safe and cared for. My dad, mom, sister, and I would talk about our days. We can talk about pretty much anything. My dad is a rockstar of a girl-dad. The conversations he’s heard at that table… there are many that he probably wishes he didn’t! But we laughed. We loved. We even cried. The dinner table, along with my mom’s cooking, was the epitome of home for me. 

Outside of dinner, there were many nights and memories spent at the table, and in the kitchen. Nights of crying over homework (with the help of my math-nerdy dad), nights of late-night conversations and midnight giggles with my sister or my friends. Nights where my sister and I would write down our favorite One Direction songs. Dinners where we would sneak food to our cat or dog. Birthday dinners, new wishes year after year. Blowing out numbered pink candles, opening presents surrounded by family.  There are so many memories that replay in my head. These memories that happened in one small room in our house are borderline endless. The amount of pure love accompanied by the feeling of belonging is unfathomable. 

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The CW

Back to the hard part of college. You know what I don’t have in my small four-bedroom apartment? Take a wild guess. A dining table. There’s not even room to put a table. No dining room, no beat-up table with scratches, and no mom to cook for me. There is barely room for more than one person to be cooking in the kitchen. The transition of never spending a dinner alone to cooking, eating, and cleaning alone is one that nobody really prepares you for. It’s a very lonely feeling. And I know it’s lonely back at my dining table at home, too. I’ve learned to adapt. Make dinner with friends. Eat with my boyfriend. But it’s not the same. Nothing is the same anymore, and while that’s a challenging feeling, it comes with the good and the bad. 

When I first got to Chico, I was so excited to be on my own. I was going to be independent! I was going to make my own meals, decorate how I want, clean up when I want. I could do whatever, whenever, because I had that ability. However, that feeling of freedom only gets you so far before you start feeling alone. 

That’s why it’s so important to find your home away from home. There is no way you can get through college with that dooming feeling of loneliness. Find your people, whoever those people are, and cherish them! Family is everything to me, whether that family is blood-related or not. Being surrounded by love and feeling welcomed are two feelings that I couldn’t live without. Go out with your besties for dinner and drinks. Try new recipes with your roommates. Spend days trying new dessert recipes. Find yourself! But don’t forget how you got to where you are. 

Experiencing the first stages of adulthood is so bittersweet. It’s exciting and new and fun, but it’s also completely out of your comfort zone. It’s scary. It’s difficult at times and it can get lonely. This whole year has been a huge lesson for me to learn, and boy have I learned a lot about being alone! But, being alone makes it so much sweeter when you get to go home. Even if it’s going back home to your beat-up, old dining room table. 

Big hugs to those pushing through and trying to make it to the end of the semester! So close to being done! You got this!

McKenzie Kirsch

Cal State Chico '25

McKenzie (Kenzie) Kirsch is a third-year at Chico State, studying English Education in hopes of being an English teacher. She likes having fun and is also very serious about her studies as well. She is originally from a small town in Northern California called Wheatland, about 30 minutes north of Sacramento, CA. She loves the community of Chico and is very happy to be spending her college years here. Outside of school, she likes to bake, read and write, workout and hike! Chico is the perfect place to explore and meet new people. She is so excited to be a member of Her Campus and continue her writing journey!