I began college pretty early, with my first classes happening when I was 16. I began attending my home-town state school when I was 17, and before I was even 18 I was off to the other side of the country. Now that I’m a little older, I have a year-’round apartment in Moline, and only occasionally visit home for weddings or other big family events.
If you’re like me, and you’re definitely used to not being home by now, going home can be tough. Once everyone’s out of highschool, you begin to realize that maybe a lot of your highschool friends weren’t the greatest friends now that you can leave the building. Most of your best friends are probably now at Ambrose, so this could be 3-4 months without them.
You also might realize that while you don’t love how busy you are during the semester, the stability that classes and homework bring to your everyday schedule are sorely missed, when all you have to do everyday is sleep until noon and sit on the porch and watch your old Snap stories.
Between my second college and coming to St. Ambrose, I spent about 7 months in my home town, living at home and working at the local hospital. In that time, I learned that there are definitely some things you can do to make your time at home not feel like a burden.
1.) Being older comes with perks
As opposed to when you’re in highschool, your parents give you a little more freedom and a little more autonomy (believe it or not). Use this as an example to explore some areas and do some things that you wouldn’t have gotten to do in highschool. If you’re old enough, check out the local bar — it might be better than you expect. Explore the area better than you have before, especially if you live in the country. There are often some pretty cool spots that you might have missed when you were younger, just because you didn’t have the free time.
When I was back home working at the hospital, I used some of my free time in the afternoons to really explore the area surrounding my hometown. There were a lot of beautiful backroads and hiking trails that I’d never seen before that helped me appreciate my hometown; despite growing up there, I didn’t know everything. (Here’s a 360 panoramic of a local hiking trail I tried out. It’s not my original, it’s shared on google maps.
2.) Become more involved in the community
One of the biggest ways to feel like your time at home is useful and not just biding time is to become involved in your local community. Though I joked about it earlier, getting in the habit of reading your local newspaper (or news-site) can become a fun pasttime, to see what’s going on back home. New businesses opening, new projects coming to town soon, friends of yours who are running for office, etc. If you know about these things ahead of time, they make for fun conversation pieces, and you can even be a part of it. I was able to be one of the first trial customers at a local bagel shop in my hometown before it opened (and it was quite good). My name and review was put up on the wall for a while.
Even small things like volunteer opportunities, markets, learning what kind of prices things in the area are can be valuable information for your adult life. Chances are, when you graduate you’ll be moving to an area where you’ll have to integrate into the community. The more you know about how to find things, what to look for, and what prices to expect can really help ease into your adult life. I know it really did for me.
3.) Take pictures and grab souvenirs
This is one that I wish I had done more. While I was at Ambrose, my family packed up and moved from New York state to Washington state, out by the ocean. Whereas I love the location they are now, and enjoy being able to go back and spend time by the ocean from time to time, I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was to not see my old home again. Before they left, my family did grab some local items for me and brought them to me on their way across country, and I have a few pictures form back home, but not the ones I want.
What I recommend for while you’re back home is to get a good camera, (or grab a friend who has a good camera and doesn’t like to share) and go to your favorite local spots to get some pictures for yourself. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and it can be worth a lot of memories too. One day, you’re not going to be going back home when school’s over, and it’s going to feel good to be ready for that with the pictures and souvenirs you’ll want.
There’s no place like home. Whereas it might seem boring, and you might not wait to have somewhere else to call home, it’s where you grew up. Like it or not, you’ll miss it sometimes, and you might wish you’d spent more time there. Try to make it last this summer.