It’s the season of packing bags and goodbyes. I simultaneously look forward to being uprooted to a new yet familiar place, that of my college, but also dread the inherent feelings of departure and loneliness one feels as one crosses the airport terminal. Where I am by myself, and the only accompaniment I have is the airport announcer’s distant voice echoing to me as I wait for the plane. When you look out the window, amid the rumbling that comes with takeoff and watch the city you call home become smaller and smaller, losing itself perhaps to the sea, or dry, stretching mountains- these moments evoke such feeling in me that I can’t muster anywhere else.
Based upon my social media feeds spanning all platforms, I conclude that I am not the only student feeling reflective and sentimental towards my first year of college, and the following summer. I finally had time to detach myself from Reed College, and examine what things worked my first year, and things that didn’t work. I’ve hovered this critical magnifying glass to every aspect of my experience, from my academic performance to my social life.

Coming back home from summer is interesting for me because I feel like my whole year at Reed was a distant dream; all the stress and things that preoccupied me, seem foreign, as if they belonged to some character from a movie I watched a while ago. Learning to acclimate into my family’s routine has been challenging, because I’ve reverted back to being mindful of other people’s lifestyles, gone back to curfews and asking permission to do almost anything. I miss the independence of college, and being able to fashion my own lifestyle on my terms. Moreover, at home I need to be a real adult- coming home, I searched for jobs, set up my own eye doctor and dentist appointments, and switched from getting rides from my mother to using public transportation to get around.

A big thing to expect coming back is your parents constantly telling you how much you’ve changed. If you get into arguments with your parents, they will be surprised by how articulate you’ve become, or by how you’re able to stand your ground as opposed to before. Being away from home let me experience a lifestyle I chose, and living communally in a dorm exposed me to ways other people carried themselves. This distance from home allowed me to analyze the way I was raised, and underscored differences I had with my parents growing up. By living alone, I stopped filtering how I expressed myself, and this carried onto my interactions at home, shocking my parents. In particular, feminist beliefs I held during the school year offended my parents, who thought I picked up my ideas from college, when really college just gave me the confidence needed to express how I’d been feeling all along.

All this time for insight is a result of not being able to find a full-time job or internship, to be honest. Finding an internship is difficult as a rising sophomore, because older people have more experience (sometimes with the company itself). I suggest looking early, around the beginning of spring. Make sure to work or volunteer throughout the school year, because this experience could make the difference on whether you get the job or not. College-educated or not, working retail is nearly impossible if you don’t have customer service experience. My degree in progress didn’t even matter at Panda Express.

Fortunately, through my involvement with South Central Scholars, I got connected to an at-home internship for a company developing a phone application that teaches English to immigrant workers. I worked a few hours a week, which wasn’t much, so I still had lots of time for internal growth. The job market is really difficult, so don’t feel bad if you can’t find anything, because there are other things you can channel your energy into. Just keep busy somehow!