January 17, 2010 - 11:58 PM
The whole process of leaving home to go away to college is a very strange one. It is full of so many stages, a good three-quarters of which are uncomfortable or awkward. I love talking with and watching my younger friends at the UO. Even if they are only a year behind me, it is truly incredibly to see how similar their current experiences are to what mine were when I was at that stage as a student. Now that I am a senior, I take time to reflect back on the journey I have so far completed. Each year of college has been unique and has had its moments of fun, angst, and growth. I am happy for each year, but, as with high school, it is not something I would go back and live again. I say this because this year I have gotten the opportunity to feel what it feels like to be in your fourth year.
By your fourth year, things start to make sense. You finally have a sense of direction. You have found your favorite spots in Eugene to hang out and your favorite people to hang out with. Your insecurities have vanished and you can better deal with stress as it arrives. The fourth year of college is truly an era of immense beauty. This year has sparked my intellectual curiosity, my creative mind, and my social fun. Everything just seems right, somehow, even when it doesn't.
A main change throughout college that a student is bound to reflect on each year is his or her relationship to home. Freshman year, everyone races home every chance they get. Most spend the entire summer back home. Sophomore year, the feeling of needing to be home still exists, but also begins to fade into a feeling of wanting to be independent and free to do whatever in your new environment. Junior year is the most awkward. It is during a student's junior year that he or she begins the questioning of, "What is home? Where is mine? Do I actually belong anywhere or am I now bound to a constant state of limbo?" I remember going home for breaks during my junior year and feeling so out of place. My room back home seemed like a museum and my high school friends were nonexistent. However, I'd return to Eugene and feel like a guest. I was a temporary resident here, in a year or two, I would be moving on. So, where did I belong? Where was home? I couldn't feel the sense of home anywhere. Well, juniors, if you're reading this, do not despair. This too shall pass.
Since I was gone all of winter break in Israel and New York this year, I didn't get the chance to go home. I didn't get to philosophize with my dad. I didn't get to experience to incredible love and care that only my mother can give. I didn't get to laugh at jokes with my brother that only our minds can get. I didn't get to walk Scooby, my faithful hound, along the beach. So, since we had a three-day weekend this week, I left Eugene Friday after class. I put on my California playlist on my iPod and as the lyrics happily belted, "What do you say we leave for California? If we drive all night, we can make it by the morning," I hit I-5 South with a smile on my face. Why the smile? Because I was going home and I was excited. Because I was going home and it felt like it. I now know that the world is my home, but that there will always be one place reserved for times when I need to recharge and truly feel welcomed.
I have spent the weekend doing a lot of homework, but have also gotten to grab some coffee with my brother, watch some movies with my mom, chat about varying topics with my dad, and finally take that walk on the beach with Scooby. It felt good to escape Eugene for a bit and now I'll be returning tomorrow recharged.