Advice, Lifestyle

A bridge between two mindsets

Coming back to college is such a strange experience. But you don’t need me to tell you that. I’m sure there are a million articles out there about adjusting to college and strategies to reduce homesickness. But I noticed there is a lack of people examining the actual feeling of returning to school.

It is such a unique and personal experience for each student, but it gets lumped into one general feeling called “adjustment.” Sure, we’re adjusting, but everyone goes through it differently.

Many articles try to “fix” this feeling, to give us ways to feel more comfortable at school. These tips are so helpful and I have used many of them myself, but what also brings me comfort is reading about people’s experiences without the implication that there’s a problem to be solved. It’s nice to just escape into someone else’s perspective and feel less alone.

For me, I feel like I’m living almost a split life. I’m from a town outside of Philadelphia, and I am the only student from my high school — which has more than 2,000 students total — to attend Boston University. Needless to say, home and school are two completely different worlds.

road sign
A road sign indicating two different directions. Sam writes about feeling like there’s a distinct split between his home and University lives. COURTESY OF PABLO GARCÍA SALDAÑA VIA UNSPLASH

As a sophomore, I have now gone through the transition between home and college a couple of times. I’ve noticed a feeling that I don’t see many people talk about, yet it appears to be common among students.

It’s an experience I’d call lacking. It’s more than missing something. Of course, I miss my childhood home, family, friends and the streets on which I learned to ride a bike and later learned to drive. 

But this feeling cuts deeper than just missing them. It feels like a part of myself is missing. These things that were so integral to my life and my identity for so long are now so far away, with almost nothing here to connect me to them.

Sure, I can call my parents and FaceTime my best friends, but it will never be the same as living in the same town, going to the same school and doing the things I always used to do. 

It quite literally feels like I have acquired a new life on top of my old one. I have new places to explore, new friends and new experiences, far away from my suburban upbringing. 

And the same goes for my friends at home. Every time I mention the George Sherman Union, Commonwealth Avenue, Warren Towers or any other BU-related thing and get blank, confused stares back, it just reminds me how vastly different our lives have become. We still connect in the same way we always have, but now there are new barriers between us that childhood never forced on us.

These two worlds are complicated because I love them both so much. Boston is exactly where I want to be and where I feel I belong. But there’s that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I am living two separate lives.

It goes beyond just the external world. I just feel different in both places. I feel like I can be more of myself in Boston since here I am free from fitting the mold of who I had always been. However, there is a profound comfort in falling into patterns of the past, sitting with the people who have seen me through the good, the bad and the ugly of growing up.

The duality of this experience creates the constant feeling of “lacking.” When I go home, I crave the freedom of college. Yet, in college, I crave the routine and comfort of home. It’s like the saying about the grass being greener. I romanticize one or the other, depending on where I am.

I don’t know if this will go away, or if growing up and maturing is realizing and accepting that this feeling lingers and is just something to get acquainted with. Maybe I will always miss where I came from, even while I love where I’m going.

I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Sure, it is not the greatest feeling in the world. But to take a more positive view, it means I have a love for so many people and so many places. 

It hurts to feel detached from a part of me. But I feel lucky to live a life where I have this love for the past and present. To love both where you came from and where you are now is a blessing. Even though it can be painful.

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