After having gone away for university, feelings about going home again are, for many, a mixed bag. For some, going home is a common occurrence. We don’t live far away, it’s cheap or free, and reasons to stay on campus for months at a time simply aren’t found. For others, going home is a sigh of relief in combination with feelings of guilt, or perhaps longing, or maybe a number of others. We aren’t quite sure what, or who, to expect may be there when we return.
I will admit, I’m one of the latter.
I came home this weekend, marking the first time I’ve been home since the beginning of August. Which means that, until now, I’ve been away longer than some of my friends on exchange from Europe or elsewhere at Glendon. I know others in residence who go home even less often than I do however, whether it’s due to choice or ability.
In any case, it becomes impossible to speak of any other’s experiences when the topic of “going home” comes up. Some of us still can’t wait to see their friends from high school, others are glad to no longer be in contact. A few of us dread dealing with the seemingly never-ending family dramas that are expected to occur, while others are craving the comfort of the lifelong familiar. What many of us do remain grateful for, on the other hand, are home-cooked meals and free laundry, even if you still have to do the washing yourself.
I find that no matter when I do finally make the two-hour trip back to my hometown, there are always surprises, expectations met, and usually, surprises that I should have expected. This time was no different.
While I should have known that my parents, as always, would have more home improvement projects done and others in process by the time I came home, they still managed to catch me off-guard with additions to the backyard, changes in furniture and a bathroom in the midst of renovations. And although I’ve known for three weeks that our dog, who had grown up with me since I was ten years old, had passed away, I still expected to see her excited to greet me as I came home, looking out the front window as I headed down from my room this morning, and lying just below my feet right now, waiting for me to go to bed. Sometimes, the differences made while we’re gone are trivial, humourous even. At other times, they cause us to truly stop and think about our absence, all that is absent to us whilst away, and the risk that some absences can be forever.
As much as we’d like for things to stay constant, and not change much while we’re away, life continues without us there. It takes time for that to sink in with many students, and unfortunately, it can take a negative aspect of life to make that happen.
That’s part of what it takes to grow up and begin a life. While we head off to university for reasons related to academics and careers, the compulsory and concurrent life lessons in which we enrol along with it are just as important and worthwhile. However, it’s difficult to realize we’re getting them, until we’ve already been tested.