A niggling of homesickness and sadness washed over me as I glanced back at my friend Alejandra. Just like most of the campus, she was heading to the airport…excited about going home for the Thanksgiving break. And unlike most of the campus, I was walking to my Latin class for a mid-term…and afterwards, I planned to return back to an empty room. I’d spent previous holidays away from family, but up until this year, I had at least always been surrounded by friends. While I knew that there were many people going through far worse situations, I still wasn’t feeling very optimistic about the next four days. School work and silent hallways did not seem like good company.
I was wrong…
Okay…actually, the school work was not fun. And the hallways were silent to the point of creepiness, but my break was still great, all because I chose to get involved around campus with other remaining students. For Thanksgiving, I helped cook with our campus’s SOCA organization (Student of Color Alliance); I was personally responsible for the green beans and a strawberry cheesecake. Before that evening, I was once again apprehensive about sharing this meal with basic strangers, but the awkwardness seemed to bring us together.
The food was amazing—together, we compiled ham, turkey, chicken, green beans, greens, mac n’ cheese, potatoes, corn, lasagna, cheesecake, pumpkin pecan pie, brownies, cornbread…the list went on and on. Some of the leaders set out tablecloths and played music. Afterwards, we sat around the table and played games. Some of the guys watched football, sprawled across the couches in the room. At some point, I looked around at the group of people and realized that I should count my blessings. Even thousands of miles away from Arkansas, I was able to find a place to call “home”—a community of students who had most likely felt the same misgivings about the holiday, but still managed to find a silver lining. We may not have gone home, but we were together.
And so…let me end this hunky-dory post with the lesson that I learned, one that I keep learning over and over. College is all about new experiences. Keeping an open mind and finding ways to reach out can help lessen feelings of homesickness or loneliness. In applying for college and choosing a four-year (or two-year) abode, don’t allow physical distance to deter you from a great community. You find great people in unexpected places…which can always lead to memories that you never imagined having.