So, imagine this. You’ve finally conquered a semester into college where you’re used to going about your time alone. You’ve dealt with lots of classes, met new friends, and maybe participated in a club or two. But finals suddenly showed up and now you’re facing coming home to family and losing that new found freedom you were used to. Soon you realize that being home doesn’t seem as interesting as you remember it before.
I’m here to say that it’s totally normal to feel awkward about coming home for the holidays. You’re dealing with reversing how you adapted to an independent college life just for a few weeks. Things seem so familiar, yet it doesn’t feel the same. That’s because you’re immediately going back without taking any time to reflect that you’ve changed.
What exactly may have changed? To start, relationships with childhood friends or your family could be lessened. You’re not the only one who has changed when you left for college. Your parents had to adjust to an empty nest and your childhood friends went on to experience their own colleges’ cultures.
What can we do to process these feelings then? The first step to is quite simple: understanding. Understand that…
Change is good. You’re supposed to go to college and leave it as an enhanced version of who you were when you started studying. Leaving the nest and making a life for yourself is the goal, so change is inevitable.
Change is also normal. Change means losing the ability of being used to certain things, like lifestyles, the people you hang with, the clothes you wear, and your interests. Our early adulthood is when a lot of things are temporary. Since we’re just starting to learn how to process different situations than what we’re used to growing up, it’s normal to feel off from changing.
There’s actually a term to describe this situation, reverse culture shock. This usually describes people who come back home after studying abroad in another country. It’s when there’s disconnect, like having feelings of frustration or discomfort, with one’s home culture because they’re used to living in an entirely different one. But, the gist of it can apply to whether you’re coming home from a college an hour away or a few states away.
As someone who has definitely felt tons of reverse culture shock just from being out-of-state for college so far, feeling disconnected from your old place means you’re on the right track. Just because everything doesn’t seem the exact same anymore, it doesn’t mean you can’t grieve that thing. It’s the starting line to your life, and what you do to win at life is to take charge of your own will. And I feel that it’s still something that I have to learn how to cope with since we’re always transforming ourselves into the new everyday.