Coming Home This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 5, 2012
Going away to college for the first time can be simultaneously scary and exciting. You are leaving your friends, family and familiar surroundings and moving on to a foreign environment. Your schedule changes and your eating habits are altered. It can be a really difficult transition. But going away to college for the first time is really exciting. You meet all kinds of new people; you can take classes you really like, stay out as late as you want and really explore yourself and your limitations beyond the bounds of family life.

You hear a lot about going away before you leave. You may have talked about what it would be like for years and shared your knowledge with others who found themselves in the same situation. But what people tend to neglect is the importance of coming home.

When you come back home from college for the first time it is like nothing you’ve ever imagined. Your family seems to have adjusted surprisingly well without you; your town looks a little bit different and your friends have begun to change as a result of their different college experiences. The shock of being home can be just as scary as leaving for college.

My analogy for coming home is as follows: When you live at home, you are part of a brick wall that makes up your family When you leave for school, you take a few of these bricks with you and use them to build your own wall at school, a wall that is uniquely you. When you come home, you find that your old bricks don’t fit quite snuggly into your family’s brick wall. Just as it shifted when you left, the family wall has to shift again to fit you in when you come home. By the same token, if your family comes to visit you at school, even for just a weekend, there is no place in your school brick wall for them. Everything has been rebuilt to suit the new situation.

If you and your family understand that things are bound to change when you leave for school, you can plan for the uncomfortable shifting of bricks. Before you leave for school, talk with your family and friends about your fears of coming home as well as your fears of leaving. Brainstorm ways to make these transitions easier and to avoid the tensions of these shifts. You know that you can always come home, but the sacrifice you make for spending the best years of your life having a great time at school is that you never come home the same way twice. Your feelings about your friends and family will change and grow, and you may be surprised at how nice these changes will be if you understand that they will happen.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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