“There’s No Place Like Home”

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One of my strongest memories was back in the fall of 1986, when my parents dropped me off at the dorms at Mizzou.  I was just a small-town naive girl that had grown up on a Missouri farm barely eighteen years old.  It didn’t hit me until a few days later and I thought to myself, “I’m not in Kansas anymore!”  Homesickness took over for at least one month as I poured myself into my classes, nights at the library, and trying to make connections with people.  I was the only one from my high school making a choice to go away to school.

It was still the time of landline phones, no texting, no e-mail, no cellular phones to make home feel a little closer.  My mom and I made a plan, a compact of sorts.  Every Sunday evening, I would call her.  I remember those first weeks away, I wanted to sound strong, confident…I didn’t want my parents to know I was doubting my big decision to move away to college.  I had fought for this privilege since March; I had given up a new car promised by my father if I just went to a local college for two years, I had given up the security of my own bed, I given up the comforts of mom’s home-cooked meals and laundry duty, I had given up the confidence of having friends to hang out with, I had given up the feeling of safety of being home.  “I’m doing great, Mom!  Yes, I am eating, yes, I get along with my roommate, yes I like my classes!”, I replied each Sunday for at least five weeks.  Then I hung up and cried in grandma’s quilt that covered my old twin bed in the dorm.  I shed alot of tears over the first semester and I had to dig deep to overcome. 

My roommate was a complete opposite personality than me.  The only perk was she had a doctor for a father – he wrote her an excuse to install a window air conditioning unit.  I kept telling myself it was a good thing she was my roommate.  The fall of 1986 got pretty hot, but she was rarely in the dorm room. When I was there alone, I turned up the air and smiled. I tried to hit the library every night when being alone in the a.c. was too much.  I poured myself into my studies.  I did enjoy the big campus, the professors, the joy of being somewhere bigger than my hometown.

Eating in the cafeteria was always nerve-wracking for me.  It was uncomfortable to sit alone at first, but slowly I found friends.  It was especially hard because I was quiet and shy.  I had to push myself to greet someone, ask to join someone, be outgoing…it slowly turned around.  I started to get to know a girl from my dorm.  I started to feel more confident.

The Sunday evening phone calls gradually started to go better.  I gave my parents more details about me having fun, enjoying the experience, not just empty words about being fine.  I did start to love being at Mizzou for so many reasons:  I felt stronger and more confident with myself, I got jobs working at the Career Center and the cafeteria, I made a close friend and we became roommates at the semester (good-bye a.c. unit!) 

The big thing I learned that first semester was how much home really meant to me.  There was a purpose in going away to college, but as Dorothy showed us, “there is no place like home!”   I received a taste of home in October when my parents came to Parent Weekend.  My real joy arrived at Thanksgiving when I went back home for the first visit.  It was magical, just like when Dorothy clicked those red sparking shoes three times. My lesson – sometimes you have to move away (physically and sometimes mentally) from something to really appreciate it.  Thank you Mizzou and Dorothy for my big life lesson:  “There’s No Place Like Home!”

 

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4 responses »

  1. That first year is hard – so much to get used to during freshman year! But you found your place and it sounds as though your college experience was a great one. And you always had home.

  2. It’s amazing to me how many different experiences people have of college and how different the lives they’ve led have been until they meet in this one big place. Isn’t it amazing, also, that we all did with phones with cords, and not a constant lifeline to the family and friends we’ve left. In some ways, we had to work SO much harder to become independent! Love the connections and descriptions that you wove into this post.

  3. You were so brave to break out of the usual and comfort of what you’d known. But it did teach you some great lessons and led you back home with more appreciation. (So glad you are writing Laura!)

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