I remember this time during freshman year like none other — classes are wrapping up for Thanksgiving break, and you’re all eagerly waiting for your last class to end so you can go home for the holiday. Chances are, you’ve realized you procrastinated a little too much to realistically catch up. You’re rushing to get through your final assignments (even though your mind is actually on shut-down mode), and you have no idea what to expect when you go home for the first time since college began.
You’re bound to encounter some unexpected changes — don’t be alarmed, though, we all go through it — but a little preparation can go a long way.
1. You’ll realize just how independent you’ve become. Since you moved out of your parents’ home, you have a lot of freedom. You come and go whenever you please; you hangout with whomever you choose; and you don’t have to ask permission to get McDonald’s at 2 a.m. Being in college has changed you, but it isn’t always easy to recognize the magnitude of that statement while you’re caught up in it. Being at home will provide a fresh perceptive on your newfound independence. It’s definitely an eye opener.
2. You’ll notice that your parents have changed, too. They’ve had to adjust to you moving out also. They probably miss you a little more than they let on and expect you to spend every waking second with them while you’re around. They probably won’t understand why you can’t seem to follow house rules anymore. Remember this is all unfamiliar territory for everyone involved, and it might require a bit of patience on both ends.
3. You’ll realize you’ve taken way too many things for granted. There’s something about being home for the first time, particularly on Thanksgiving, that makes you understand just how much you love a home-cooked meal. Growing up, it was kinda expected… But, after living off of Ramen for 4 months, it’s a warm welcome — not to mention the fully functional washer and dryer (and a mother who can’t wait to wash a load for you), the siblings who aren’t so annoying after a semester apart and all of the other virtues of being home. You’ll quickly learn to appreciate them.
4. Your surroundings will inevitably be different. For the most part, your hometown will be just as you left it, but the minor changes won't seem so trivial. Maybe a new retail store opened downtown, or your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants closed, or perhaps your mom simply changed the comforter on your bed — whatever it is, it will make you feel like everything is different.
5. Spending time with your high school friends will be an experience in and of itself. You’ve probably lost touch with many of the people you knew in high school and reconnecting might fall short of your expectations. At first, it’s like your high school self has been locked up waiting to be released since you left — your attitudes, inside jokes and commonalities will get you through the awkward “catching up” phase. But, after the excitement wears off, you’ll realize you don’t have as much in common as you used to. It’s OK — you’re meeting new people, growing, changing and becoming a better version of yourself — but, that doesn’t mean it won’t be tough.
6. You won’t get any studying done. I won’t even waste my time elaborating on this one; just don’t bother. Leave the textbooks in Gainesville.
7. You’ll be more than ready to get back to UF when it’s all said and done. An important realization will come when the holidays are over and you’re preparing to head back to Gainesville; you’ve changed in the past few months, and you’re still growing as a person. You’ll know UF is where you belong for this part of your journey, and you’ll be ready for new experiences, more changes and the rest of your college life to unfold.
Embrace the changes, freshmen. They’re the stepping stones to your continued growth at your home away from home. Learn to expect the unexpected, and know that The Gator Nation is waiting with open arms for your return.
Travel safe, have a wonderful break, and remember, if you have any questions or concerns, submit them here. We’ll try to answer in the last two weeks of our blog!