When you arrive at college, you know no one, you're in a strange place, and you can't wait to go home and talk to the friends you left behind. But after a few weeks, a few months even, you make new friends and eventually get to the point where you don't want to go home because you don't want to miss a party on Friday or going to the club on Saturday.
The next time you do go home, it doesn't quite feel like home anymore. Your little brothers and sisters have suddenly grown up and created a life that is better than spying on you. Nothing seems the same anymore, no matter how much you try not to notice or think it's not true.
When this reality hits, it's enormous, and the fact that no one understands doesn't help. You find that old friends have moved on, and your parents get on your nerves even more - they don't mean to, but they do. No one understands what you have been through, or why you have changed. Only your friends at school who go through it with you understand. And when you leave at the end of the year, you leave behind those friends, and take all the memories with you - the good, the bad and the ugly. It will hurt just as much to leave your new friends at school as it did to leave your old friends at home.
Home will never seem the same, and you won't be able to bear the wait to go back in the fall for more fun times, crazy moments and new friends. It doesn't do much good to explain this to anyone back home, because no matter how hard they try, they won't understand. Some won't even try. Family members don't understand what you are thinking when you look around your house and notice that nothing is the same. They may say you're imagining changes. The empty feeling you get when you realize how much things have changed and how much you have missed back home is hard to deal with.
But when you think about how much you experienced in college and how you have become more independent, that empty feeling will fade. You will be filled with memories of hanging out in your dorm room watching movies with new friends, and that warm night you went for a walk at 3 a.m. just to talk to a friend about a tough time. College things - the deep conversations, the late-night parties, hours spent laughing at nothing, sad moments when a friend is hurting - those are what will stand out the most in your mind. In the end, you will realize that college is one of the your best experiences.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.