Even through high school, I was a majorly homesick person. The summer before ninth grade, my best friend and I went to a four night soccer sleepaway camp in Northern Maryland. We both hated the camp, were insanely homesick, and became good friends with our dorm neighbors, mainly so that we could call our moms using their cell phones (it was 2005 and we didn’t have our own yet!). When I went on a church trip to Boston the following year, I also sobbed the first few nights and couldn’t wait to go back home. I think my parents kind of assumed that I would stay near home for college, which would have been fine, but even as a ninth grader, I had already set my sights on schools in California and New England. I just didn’t know if I could actually follow through with those goals because of my homesickness. Staying nearby didn’t seem like a bad option.
I eventually decided that whether I attended college two hours away or 12 hours away, I would adjust eventually, and so I should look at schools all over the country anyway. I ruled out the Midwest and the West Coast, because I wanted to enroll somewhere that was in a different part of the country but was still only an hour or so away via plane. That left basically the entire East Coast, and when I went on my first college visit to a school in North Carolina, I fell in love. I decided that rather than applying to this school super early (they had an option for students to apply in August before their senior year), I should look at a few other options as well. After visiting many colleges in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New England, I fell in love with Colby, applied early, and got in.
And you know what? From the moment I arrived to college, I wasn’t homesick at all. I was so busy doing activities with my dorm, meeting new friends, and going on my orientation trip that I honestly wasn’t thinking about being sad or missing my family. That positive experience paved the way for a semester abroad in Scotland, two years of working in New York City, and a year in Philadelphia. I was always close ish to home, but never really close enough to go back at the spur of the moment. In fact, the first time I brought laundry back home was earlier this year!
When my graduate program was nearing its end, I started looking at jobs mainly in Philly and DC. I eventually decided that DC was where I would be happiest, and I was right! It’s been so nice not only to be near my family but also to be back in a familiar town and to reconnect with old friends. Plus, since I haven’t lived in the area since I was 18, I can explore DC with a whole new set of eyes. Right now I definitely feel like I know Manhattan way better than I know DC, but I’m learning!
Since moving back, I’ve had the opportunity to do things that are seemingly common to other people but are out of the ordinary to me, as someone who hasn’t lived near home in seven years. When I was at church earlier this year, I walked by the youth choir practice room and heard kids singing one of the same songs I had learned probably 15 years earlier. When I was sick, my family stopped by my apartment with bagels from my favorite hometown store. It’s the little things. The funny thing is, I actually haven’t been to my actual house since before Christmas, but my mom and I meet up for dinner roughly once a week or spend time in my apartment.
Now that I’m back, I feel like I’ve had the best of both worlds. I got to explore new states and cities but now can enjoy the comforts of home and appreciate familiarity. Sometimes I wonder what things would have been like if I had moved straight to DC after college–eliminating those years in New York and possibly in Philadelphia as well–but I look back on all of the good times I had in those places, too, and wouldn’t change my path at all.