Confessions From My First Trip Home

After three months of not leaving Emory’s campus, excluding a few obligatory escapes from the DUC to help keep my sanity, November 25th could not have come sooner for me. As the date approached and my email began to flood with messages from Southwest reminding me that my “trip was around the corner,” the anticipation slowly began to kill me.

I found myself spending the entire week prior to my trip doing nothing else but envisioning what it would be like to reunite with my family and friends. I made brunch plans and coffee dates with more people than days during my stay at home. I dreamed of the hot, cheesy slice of pizza I’d eat at my local pizza place. Long story short, I definitely could not wait any longer to return to the place I had called home for the past eighteen years of my life.

The spectacular place I longed to return to turned out to be the same home as I had left it in August. Yes, there were the obvious, undeniable perks of being home: the home-cooked meals, hot showers, Tempur-Pedic mattresses, hair-cuts, cars, best friends, family -- just to name a few. But even with all the benefits, there was a huge part of me that actually missed Atlanta. Even though I’d known and loved my home for practically my entire life, I actually wanted nothing more but to return to the campus I’d only lived on for the past three months.

As I walked through my high school on our Alumni Day, it was only minutes before I was reminded of the extreme stress I experienced during my four years as a student there. Sure, it was great to reunite with beloved teachers and see some friends from class that I wouldn’t see otherwise, but ultimately I found myself eager to return to a school atmosphere that didn’t remind me of daily exams and 8 AM classes that I couldn’t stay awake for. I wanted to go back to a school where I could walk out of my 11 AM class only to hear blasting music from Asbury Circle and see my friends trying to recruit me to join them in whatever projects they were passionate about.

Seeing my family and friends was obviously great, but what surprised me most was how much I missed my new Emory family. I found myself texting my college friends at every chance I could get and experiencing extreme separation anxiety, despite the fact that we’d only been apart for less than 72 hours. Going from having a group of friends that I essentially spent every single day with to being at home as an only child just felt strange. Late-night snacking alone at my kitchen table instead of on the floor with a group of girls just felt unnatural; getting ready for bed without procrastinating sleeping by hanging out with everyone on my hall felt radical. I missed the sense of community that is uniquely Emory.

I’ve always been told that home is where the heart is, and right now, my heart is at Emory. It may have been an adjustment, but being home has allowed me realize that I’ve truly found my place here. Personally, there is no better feeling than discovering that you actually belong somewhere that you’ve made the choice to be at.