Normalize reverse homesickness in college

Pictured+%28left+to+right%29+Ashley+Luckett%2C+Sarah+Allen%2C+Bailey+Kirkland%2C+Aaliyah+Alexander%2C+Kendra+Williams+and+Jackson+Hale.+Photo+provided+by+Aaliyah+Alexander.

Pictured (left to right) Ashley Luckett, Sarah Allen, Bailey Kirkland, Aaliyah Alexander, Kendra Williams and Jackson Hale. Photo provided by Aaliyah Alexander.

by Aaliyah Alexander, Opinion Editor

After a long spring semester at college, I couldn’t wait to return home to Mississippi. 

The thought of returning to my bedroom, home-cooked meals, family and childhood friends served as a sort of “high” that helped me get through finals. 

I lived on this “high” until reality slowly came crashing down as I arrived back home to my bedroom being used as storage, friends with new lives and a hometown that looked and felt unfamiliar. 

I didn’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling I had when I returned home after my first semester two years ago. 

That feeling, in hindsight, started to deteriorate the more I came home for breaks, but the realization didn’t hit me until recently. 

In some strange way, I thought things would just pause while I was away at college. I assumed that my friends, family and town would stay exactly the way I left it, but this obviously isn’t how life works. 

Clinging to what I knew so well kept me grounded my first few semesters at college as I entered unfamiliar waters 1,772 miles away from home. 

As I approach my third year, I realize the unfamiliar waters aren’t so unfamiliar anymore. Without realizing it, I was establishing a new life in California as my life in Mississippi paled. 

It’s hard to see your favorite hometown spots get torn down and be replaced by new establishments, watch your childhood friends create new memories without you in the picture or see your bedroom get transformed into a home gym, but that’s a part of the growing pains we’re meant to experience. 

During my second week back home, I began to long for my “home away from home”. To see if this feeling was normal, I did what every person does when they’re unsure — I Googled it. 

The term “reverse homesickness” came up in the results. 

I’d never heard of this term, but the more blog posts I read about other people’s experiences with this phenomenon, the more I could relate. 

Instead of having feelings of familiarity associated with the town I grew up in, I started to have these feelings for the town I moved to just a few years ago. 

There’s no denying the fact that the longer you stay in a location, the more you become accustomed to the culture, people and lifestyle you’ve built there, but I wasn’t expecting to feel at home in San Diego so quickly while feeling like a foreigner in my hometown. 

After acknowledging the reality of these uncomfortable truths, I found comfort in one of my favorite songs by Alessia Cara titled “Wherever I Live”: 

“What a life man, what a life this is/ Just me, myself and nothing/ But I taught me how to love it/ Home is wherever I live.”

I will forever be thankful for the place that molded me into the person I am today, and I look forward to what my new home will make out of me. 

Home isn’t the place that has the most history, home is the place that makes you feel at peace. 

Aaliyah Alexander is a junior studying journalism and international studies. Follow her on Twitter @aaliyahdanyell

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