How Going Off To College Made Me Regret Ever Wanting To Leave Home

by Francesca Zepeda

Yes, having your own toilet and four walls to call "your room" is a luxury one can find nowhere else but "home.” But what defines "home?"

Most people would define it as the place in which you spend majority of your valuable time, but when it comes down to technicalities, you spend 99 percent of your time in college on your school's campus.

So, what defines a home? The place in which you spend the most time, or the place in which you feel the most connected to? What if you feel more connected to your dorm than your hometown?

First semester of college down, and I already feel like I've carved out a place for myself at my school. I loved the new faces and places I encountered as a result of moving to a different city, but a college town was nowhere close to replacing the piece of my heart I had reserved for my hometown.

When I left for college, I (like every other college student) began to miss all the comfort I found in my hometown, such as home-cooked meals and non-communal showers. Yet, after spending more than two days with my family for the holidays, I began to miss my dorm and everything about life on campus.

I longed for the day when I would regain the liberty of freedom and no longer be surrounded by worried parents, even if that meant I would be exposed to the familiar, unwelcome smell of campus dining halls. I even began to miss my walks through the campus plaza and the smell of the local coffee shop.

I was absolutely shocked to be diagnosed with homesickness for my college town. This diagnosis messed with my emotions and caused more distress than I expected.

It begged the question, "Which way is home?" If you can relate, then you also must feel as though your life in college is separate from your life at home.

Leaving for college was the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Everything prior to that moment was being left behind for good.

When deciding to leave your hometown for a college town, you thought about how your family and friends (people who have known you for all of your existence) are no longer going to be there for all the memories you will make throughout the next four years.

Although it's bittersweet to accept, realize there is a blessing in knowing you have something in your hometown that made leaving so hard.

One of the perks of starting this “new life” in college is the ability to meet some amazing people. My roommate taught me a valuable lesson about what it means to call a place “home.”

Among the late nights of sharing life stories, I learned she has three places to call her own. She was born and raised in a small town in New Jersey. When she decided to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, her parents moved to Orlando to lessen the distance between them and their daughter.

This meant her closest high school friends, family and new college friends were spread across the entirety of the East Coast. While sharing her struggle with me, she explained she was emotionally attached to a different city than where she was physically present. In order to cope with the idea that her heart was in three different cities, she defined home as a place where you are surrounded by people you love.

Your heart may be torn in two (or three) locations when deciding on a place to call "home," but fear not. Home does not have to be defined by any physical boundaries.

No matter where you are — hometown or college town — your home can travel with you. Rather than trying to think of home as a place, think of it as the people you value most and who value you most.

As sung beautifully by "Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros" in their song “Home," "Home is wherever I'm with you." “You" means those people whom you could not imagine life without.

If you keep this in mind and constantly surround yourself by people who make your heart feel complete, then you will never feel lost. After all, home is where the heart is.