Going home on break is always a bittersweet feeling. At some point during the semester, college may have started to feel like a second home. It becomes hard to leave that behind for the three days or months of break. But then when it’s time to return, it feels hard to be leaving home again.
I’m lucky since I live locally. If I wanted to, I could go back and forth between home and campus multiple times a month. When I tell people that I live so close to home, they often ask, “Why are you living on campus if your house is so close to the school?” And the answer was always a sense of community.
Yes, I’ve heard of the horror stories of some commuters who weren’t able to form as much of a bond with peers as people who were living on campus. But to me, everyone in my residential hall was like a big family. Of course, I was closer to some people more than others, but we would all support each other when it came to it. We were able to connect with each other through a common major, coming from the same area, or a common friend group. I loved the fact that we never hesitated to lend a pair of scissors to each other or have a communal crying session after a particularly rough exam.
College is often seen as a place where everyone fends for themselves until they make it to graduation, where people compete for that internship or research position that basically everyone in your major is aiming for. But here, it’s more common to see people studying with each other during reading period until 3 a.m., or bringing Starbucks to their friends. When break comes, I miss the supportive atmosphere that it brings to this otherwise competitive university.
During break, it was nice to be around my siblings and parents again, but I also missed the independence of my college lifestyle. My mom is the type of parent who will probably treat you like a 12-year-old until you’re 30 and married. She would lecture you on drinking coffee daily and remind you to go to bed at 10 p.m. It was the little decisions of when to get dinner, or leave the house without having to report where I’m going every time. These little moments make it refreshing to be living on campus.
Like most things, there are negative things about independence as well. Staying at home for the longer break reminded me of every little thing that my mom would do for me and my siblings. Take something as simple as washing fruit — she would wash and cut and leave them on the kitchen table. This made it so that when I went back to campus, I almost groaned at the fact that it takes so much more effort to eat something as simple as fruit. Compared to what my mom did for us at home, eating fruit on campus took so much more effort. It was moments like those that made it a little harder to adapt back to college life after being with your parents for a long period of time. And not just parents — siblings too.
I don’t know about you, but my siblings are the rowdiest of the bunch, often screaming and running around until their bedtime. With that ruckus disrupting a cozy afternoon, I wish I was back at my dorm or the library reading a book. Instead, I have to plug my ears to try to not let them drive me crazy when my parents are at work. However, at other times, their enthusiasm really does help me destress after a week filled with exams and labs right before spring break.
Being home really is a double-edged sword. It’s comforting to be around people you’ve known for your entire life, but it also comes with the sacrifice of some of the things you built into your daily routine in college. But what can I say, it’s always good to go back home — nothing beats authentic Chinese food.