2: Process

Miss your old room yet?

At first, choosing college is a selfish decision with a very focalized perception. Time doesn’t leave much room to cope between the excitatory events starting at receiving an acceptance letter, to prom, to graduation, then finally to summer vacation. The process is very rushed, as high school students ride the high of senior year all the way out the door and into a 183 square ft dorm room with a roommate who keeps moldy pizza under her bed. And that’s when they realize how much they miss home. Both A and J emphasize the possibility of losing connections with their community. As we enter this stage in moving, the negative shortcomings to the transition begin to surface. In some, these anxious thoughts may even overturn the decision to move. But luckily, these two chose to conquer their fears and stick with their decision to come to college.

Leading up to the final moments of saying goodbye, what was most difficult? What emotions did you have?

A: “Freshman year wasn’t so bad. But I cried when she left me at the apartment sophomore year because I realized that was the last summer I was ever going to live at her place. I realized I wasn’t ever going to move back in. And I kept thinking did I spend enough time with her, will she be alright, will she emotionally ok, no one visits or calls her but me, she’s going to be alone in that big ass house, will she do anything, she thinks she’s going to die alone because my dad is a dick etc, etc. In general, it was all about how my mom will feel and how I will never live there again”

J: “Knowing how time has earned more value. That I would no longer see my friends and family that I had grown up with for the majority of my college experience. Realizing this and accepting this was very difficult. What creating even more difficulty was realizing that in a year the relationships I had with friends and family could be entirely different when I come back. In other words, the home that I grew up in may no longer be home when I return”

How was your transition to Western Washington University different from other people’s?

A: “I’m not really a people person so a lot of people made friends in the dorm and I was like hanging out with my computer. I didn’t really get along with them because my whole floor was into drinking and partying and I wasn’t really apart of that scene. Plus, it was very clicky and I didn’t come to college just to partake in some high school class stratification system again”

J: “I can’t speak for others, we all have different and difficult circumstances. What makes my transition unique is essentially having no relationships or familiarities with Washington or anyone who attended University prior to my freshman year”

J and A show two sides of the same argument. Freshman year J was looking for connections, people to help establish a new sense of community. A on the other hand strayed away from the similarities she saw from high school in college. I’m guessing they both chose to look for comfort in their environments by making friends they shared some commonality with. However, J was more willing to go out and look for a community than A, who had her boyfriend.

At what moments did you find yourself missing home the most? Felt most vulnerable?

A: “I think during really stressful times and especially when I had really big fights with Evan Freshman year. They were awful because it was our first time being with each other SO MUCH. I cried a lot”

J: “When others referenced their homes, and realizing home for me wasn’t an option. All of which lead to feelings of isolation which was difficult to overcome. When it became apparent that the cultures and the social norms that I grew up in were very much different then those that I experienced on a daily basis in and around University”

What aspects of home did you find missing the most?

A: “My dog. My mom’s cooking. My mom.

J: “The biggest aspect of home I missed was not having feelings of isolation. Being in Washington it’s easy to feel “alone” in some ways because the norms and expectations of Hawaii and Washington are very different. At the end of the day no one necessarily understands you, making home and family all that more desirable”

How did your environment (people, setting, overall atmosphere) affect the level of homesickness you felt?

A: “When my friend’s parents would call their children or even visit them. Or helped them move when they went to a new place. I was quite jealous actually- my mom and I have a stubborn, non-affectionate relationship”

Do you remember a specific moment when you felt most homesick?

A: “Yeah, when my roommates whole family came to help her move and I was there by myself. I was like holy shit I miss my family”

J: “Yeah, I wanted to transfer to a college in Hawaii. Also at times when I felt incompetent. Like I didn’t belong in college and I felt as if I surrounded myself with people who didn’t help me grow as a better person”

Both reference “the familiar” in some way, J through his lack of it when coming to Washington and A when her roommates family came to visit. Each experience isolated them away from their college community, momentarily reverting their minds to memories of their home communities. At the end of the day, the prominent differences between the two homes stranded them as foreigners. Washington attitudes reminded J of the laid back “hi-life” in Hawaii, and the sight of the closeness of A’s roommates family, reminded A of how broken hers is . We’re all looking for something entering college but some of what we abandon at home we need to leave behind in order to see it differently. Missing home makes us appreciate it for what it means to be away from it. Movement is all about growth. It’s about being capable to endure change and adapt along side it. Even if what needs to change is the mental expectancy formed prior to moving in, we accept it as part of the process.