By Laura K. Garrison
Confession: I’ve spent more weekends at home than I’ve spent at Barnard. Judging by the number of students I see with duffels and rolling suitcases on Thursday nights and Friday mornings, I’m not alone.
A significant portion of Barnard’s student body grew up in the tri-state area and could probably be home in less than two hours (depending on the New York traffic, of course). I have it especially easy; my parents can swing by on their way home from work and tote me (and my huge bag of laundry) back to New Jersey. From my perspective I’m spoiled, but I know there are many girls who specifically wanted to be far from home or in a big city where they couldn’t easily be found. But by holding on to the comforts of home, I sometimes feel like I am prolonging that incredibly awkward transitional period to college. I ask myself: is my close proximity to home a nice perk or a hindrance to my new life as a college student?
The truth is I’m still trying to answer this question. Though I grew up in the shadow of New York, living here is a totally new experience. I’ve never really used public transportation by myself, never really felt the invisibility and isolation of New York, and never experienced such steep sticker-shock of NYC prices when shopping. Moving to New York adds a whole new level to the already daunting task of moving away to college. So, when I can, I try to counteract this stressful change by going home. It’s nice to be back in a familiar place with familiar people. I get to sleep in my own bed, shower without flip-flops on, and do my laundry (or have my mom do it for me!) for free. I can play with my dog, watch endless TV shows on an actual television, and blast music without fear of judgment or complaints from down the hall. Yes, home life certainly has its perks.
Is it really worth it though?
The fact is, when I’m home it feels like last summer, when I had few obligations. So despite lugging my textbooks home with me, I usually get very little work done. Unless someone wakes me up, I can quickly sleep away the morning (if not part of the afternoon), only increasing the hours I’ll be up Sunday night to finish my work. When I’m home, I’m expected to help with the chores (washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, etc.), all of which are taken care of for me as a first-year at Barnard. Most importantly, when I’m home on the weekends I’m missing out on valuable opportunities to socialize and make friends—really, a necessary means of survival for the lost and confused first-year, and for establishing my new life away from home.
I don’t really think there’s an answer to this question. I recently spoke to Alexandra Vidal, a junior who grew up in my hometown. She understood my plight exactly, and gave me this answer: contrary to popular belief, there is no one college experience. Your college experience is what you want it to be, whether that means going home on weekends or isolating yourself from your family until Thanksgiving. Though I feel the pressure to stay in the city, I come home when I need a breather (or someone to do my laundry). I’ve decided you can only do what feels right, but most of all enjoy your weekends, whether they’re spent exploring New York or recuperating in the house you grew up in.
Laura K. Garrison is a first-year at Barnard College. She may or may not have written this article on her couch at home while watching SNL.
Photo courtesy of Relevant History.