In my four years at Hope, I have met only a handful of people that are more obsessed with their hometown than I am. I’ve been more and more aware lately of how early in my first conversation with someone I tell them, “I’m from Petoskey!” The love I have for the little laketown I grew up in, and the community that still loves me so well from afar, will never be taken for granted. I love Northern Michigan, and I love my home.
As you can imagine, this hometown I love was very difficult for me to leave when I moved into Dykstra Hall my Freshman year. For many, the move to college is a long-anticipated new beginning. The drama of high school is washed away, and you are presented with a brand new start. Yet, for some–myself included–that fresh start is what felt so intimidating to me. No one knew me. Even though I was excited to meet new people and forge new friendships, I missed the ease and familiarity of friendships at home.
Aside from the growing pains of forging new relationships, I also just really missed my family. The thought of my brothers and parents sitting at the dinner table without me was unthinkable, and it was hard that I knew they missed me too. In my own personal experience, homesickness is less like the flu and more like food poisoning. It comes when you’re least expecting it, and also leaves almost as abruptly as it starts. Freshman year, but Sophomore year as well, I would have unexpected hard days where homesickness would slam me out of nowhere. But the sadness would never last as long as I thought, and before I knew it, I was back to laughing about something with my roommates.
One of the anomalies of Freshman year is how time seems to paradoxically speed up and slow down at the same time. I will never forget how I felt after going home for the first time that first fall break in October. I had only been away from home for a month and a half, and it did feel like it had gone by fast; but at the very same time, it felt like I had been at school for years. So much had happened already.
Moving away to college, along with forming new relationships and missing old ones, also presented a handful of more obvious and tangible challenges. In my first semester at Hope, I remember struggling to manage my time, calling my dad (so many more times than I’d like to admit) because I had locked my keys in my car, learning how to take good notes, and learning which sweaters you can put through the dryer and which you definitely shouldn’t. Moving away from home is a brand new experience, and one with many learning curves. But the best part is that you have about 900 other freshmen around you that are trying to figure it all out too.
So to the incoming freshman reading this, embrace each new challenge with grace for yourself and an excitement to learn. Freshman year, although it’s full of so many new challenges, is really, really fun. Courageously make new friends, call your mom, figure out the person you want to be, and begin the journey of becoming that person. Before you know it, Hope will become another home you love, and another you will have to say goodbye to. And home is never quite as far away as it feels.