When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to start a new life for myself in college. To me, college was like a blank slate and an opportunity to be whomever I wanted. That initial zest for experiencing new and exciting opportunities quickly subsided once I moved to Gainesville, Florida. College life wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, and it discouraged me for a while. This inevitably turned into being homesick, and I was counting down the days until I could be with my loved ones and back in the comfort of my hometown.
When I went back home to visit, it was an entirely different experience than what it felt like as a kid or teenager. Looking around, I was able to appreciate the areas I once took for granted and saw the beauty that was there all along, yet I couldn’t see it at the time. I am now a junior in college, and I have grown immensely over the last three years and have created two lifestyles for myself: an at-home life and a college life.
While they have similarities, I prefer my lifestyle at home. I know my routine; I know where everything is, and I am aware of my opportunities. I spend time with my boyfriend and family, and I can complete my schoolwork at my job, which I look forward to going to. I think because of these circumstances, I'm much more relaxed and happier at home than in Gainesville. When I'm at school, I'm sitting in front of my computer for hours on end, spending the majority of my days in my apartment and tend to slip back into a state of poor mental health. However, I feel more independent in Gainesville, which is one thing I have come to love. It’s empowering to fully create your schedule and have your own space.
Throughout my experiences I have talked with friends and peers endlessly about this topic, wondering if they felt the same. I interviewed a few of my closest friends about whether or not their lifestyles differ at school versus at home and which one they prefer.
Jung Kim, a fourth-year journalism major at the University of Florida (UF), admitted to feeling torn about loving both lifestyles and what they each bring to the table. This feeling is new, though. It wasn’t until this year, her senior year, that she felt a sense of belonging in Gainesville, thanks to some of her newfound friends.
“If you had asked me any other year which place I preferred, I would have always said home with my parents in a heartbeat, but now I feel the tug from both places and such deep-rooted love for both,” Kim said. “I guess that’s actually a good thing.”
She explained to me how, much like my own experience, she found being at home to be very relaxing and refreshing. She can take it easier on homework and studying and spend more time with her parents, checking out new restaurants in town or just being in each other's company. However, she also explained how being in Gainesville gives her a sense of purpose and independence that she had yet to feel before.
“There’s something so sweet about being home with my family yet something so exhilarating about being surrounded by friends my age and doing life together,” Kim said. “In Gainesville, I feel more independent by doing my dishes and laundry, cleaning the house, going places on my own and practicing self-care.”
Jung and I share a few similarities with our experiences. The sense of independence while up at school is one of them.
Zoe Orgass, who happens to be my best friend and roommate this year, is a first-year political science major at Santa Fe College. She too has become more independent since moving away from home, and she has found some other benefits as well.
“I think I prefer my specific lifestyle in Gainesville more than at home, but I prefer the environment of my home more,” Orgass said. It’s easier for her to stay focused and follow her schedule while in Gainesville, where she doesn’t have as many distractions from her friends and family at home.
She admits that it's weird not being under her parents' roof anymore, but she has loved the experience of being away from home and becoming more of an adult. Unlike me, where I prefer to blend the two lifestyles to better achieve personal goals, Zoe enjoys the separation and intends on keeping it that way.
“I enjoy the separation because it gives me time and space to live on my own and grow as an adult,” Orgass said. “I believe if the two were blended any more I’d be too tempted to go back and stay at home permanently.”
College years are painted out to be the best years of your life when in reality that isn’t the case for most people. However, many thrive under the fast-paced lifestyle of college and love the experience. Lifestyles might be different due to various factors, and whether you choose to combine the two is up to you. All that matters is that you are happy!