By Jessica Port
Coming home from college is always a surprise in one way or another.
“Why is there a weight set in my room?”
I probably would’ve missed it if the red steel machine hadn’t clashed so horribly with the purple walls. Or if it wasn’t taking up most of my walking space.
“Where did we even get this? Why did we even get this?”
“It’s your brother’s. He wanted to start working out.”
“In my room?”
It all looked the same, save for the exercise equipment. And it all looked so different.
Coming home from college for each visit, something else is off. Big changes like my brother re-purposing my room. Small things, like a re-wallpapered bathroom, or new medicine for the dog. New plates and new pots.
Coming Home From College—Things Change
Beyond the physical changes, I noticed the huge differences from my dorm life. There were empty rooms all over instead of a single crowded dorm room. There was no food within walking distance. Meals were a family affair, not spent alone in front of Netflix with a Lean Cuisine and homework, or in a crowded dining hall. And there was no one to bake cookies with at 11:00 p.m. while playing video games. All of a sudden I was back to negotiating the car, told to do errands, or asked to let the dogs out.
I had become so used to my college life—setting my own schedule: classes for three hours, find lunch, go to another class, homework, club meeting, homework. Sleep? Repeat. Suddenly I was trapped at home with nowhere to go because it’s 8° F and I don’t have a car.
I have forgotten how to behave outside of college. There are no deadlines. Someone controls when and what you eat. There are curfews. There are other adults you need to be considerate of.
Sometimes, you realize you don’t know your family anymore. “Didn’t I tell you? Your brother totaled the car/Your aunt and uncle moved to Arkansas/The neighbor’s dog passed away.”
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t tell me that.”
“How weird, I could’ve sworn I did.”
The Challenges of Leaving Your School Home to Return Home
Coming home from college is always a bit weird, as I need to relearn the house rules. Remember where to put the dishes, which I haven’t done in months. Put the shoes away, which are now stashed under my bed. Here’s how to make the bed, even though I’ll just sleep there again tonight.
Yet, when the holiday season hits, I start getting into the swing of things. My family comes back together, and I remember who I’m supposed to be. Loving daughter, awkward child, annoying sister, every little piece of me that I hadn’t needed in college is suddenly back.
It’s hard, having to move between two homes. Because at some point, my school became home too. My roommates, dormmates, clubmates, became a hodgepodge family. I was suddenly like two different people, a there and a here. There, I can be whoever I want. Here, I’m who I had been before.
But, the oddest thing about it all, at least for me, is that it’s still home. The house is in the same place. My bedroom is where I left it. The rooms get rearranged more and more, and sometimes my room is used for storage. But this place, these rooms, this family, will always feel like a part of who I am.
Who knows. Maybe I can spend this holiday lifting weights?
Jessica Port is a senior at Miami University of Ohio.