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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

Going to college close to home is underrated. I don’t have to worry about packing all my belongings into a single suitcase for move-in, booking flights home for every break or having separate wardrobes for two different climates. Plus, I can go home whenever I want. While I definitely don’t take advantage of that as much as my mom would like, it comes in handy pretty often. Best of all, it’s easy to visit my high school friends whenever they’re in town for school breaks. 

There’s something therapeutic about being with the people you’ve laughed with more times than you can count, the people you’ve told your secrets to since you had secrets worth telling. Whether you’re recounting old stories or catching up with everyone’s lives at college, there’s a quiet comfort in friendships you don’t remember not having. There’s a sense of routine in sleeping on the same basement couch, eating the same lousy pizza, driving around on the same streets. It’s a feeling you almost forget every time you leave, but when you come back you wonder how you could even live without it. It is happiness both indescribable and wholly knowable.

This last time visiting home, though, I was reminded of more than the people who tie me to my hometown. I had ditched my new (to me) sedan for my family’s minivan and was driving down a red brick road. It was in my old neighborhood, the one I’d moved out of just before starting my senior year of high school. My black backpack sat next to me in the passenger seat, stuffed full of half-used notebooks and loose post-it notes. The iced chai in my cup holder was one I’d had a hundred times before and my only choice for music was the old Taylor Swift album that’d been in the CD player since 2014. 

I was singing along to the second or third track when I was overcome with déjà vu. Of course, I’d done this a million times before. This drive was routine for me, just not for me currently. I was brought back to myself at 16, uncertain of the future but content with the present. I remembered what it was like to be that girl, to have every little thing seem so monumental, to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and the inklings of first love in my heart. If I was feeling even a little bit jaded, that boredom was brushed out the door by the memory of my younger self. I realized how far I was from that girl, how I could barely recognize her as myself.

I learned one lesson at that moment: your hometown isn’t there to hold you back, it’s there to remind you who you used to be. It’s there to show you how much you’ve changed, even if you haven’t been paying attention. It’s there to tell you that it’s okay to not be the girl you were at 16, to grow up and take the lessons as they come. Spending a few days in your hometown is a chance to recenter your focus and reflect on your past.

So, as fall breaks come and go, don’t forget your hometown. Relish in familiar street corners, revisit old friendships and remind yourself where you come from. Your visit home could be a source of joy and contemplation.

Studies neuroscience and Spanish, loves a hot cup of green tea and spends too much time listening to Simon & Garfunkel.