Home for the Holidays: Hot Takes on Going Back to Your Hometown

Yelena Fleming // The Flat Hat

Grace Saunders ’26 is a prospective chemistry and economics double major from Roanoke, Virginia. In her spare time, she can be found listening to Taylor Swift, trying to replicate recipes from the Great British Baking show and probably reading her chemistry textbook.  

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

Before Thanksgiving break, I had yet to go home post move-in, making this the longest stretch I have ever been away from my childhood home. I stayed on campus for fall break, I’ve had my parents come visit me here and I’ve simply called to stay in touch with friends and family. Some of you may relate to this narrative, others less so, but where I’m from this is highly unusual. Most of my hometown friends have had their homecomings twice and thrice already (granted, they’re a lot closer to home than I am). My take on going home for the first time is colored by the norms of my hometown, my personal opinions, my previous experiences and the experiences I’ve had here on campus, so bear that in mind as you continue reading.

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On (briefly) living at home again

Have you ever been told that your house has a distinct smell, but could never smell it yourself? My first shock once home was picking up a note of that scent (not in a bad way, it doesn’t reek like my dorm does). I actually felt so off-kilter that I had to stand in my kitchen for a second and just look around — I felt like everything was both different and the same, or maybe it was just me that was different? I spent the first day or two aimlessly wandering around my house, opening drawers and cupboards, looking for anything that had changed. Either way, those first few moments back home were neither good nor bad, just weird for me. It was like opening a time capsule, even though it had only been three-ish months since I had last been there.

On revisiting favorite spots

Oh, this was absolutely wonderful. That’s really all I have to say about it — I had really been craving a latte from my favorite coffee place back home, I missed my favorite stores downtown and I missed my car and driving those familiar roads like you wouldn’t believe. It was so refreshing to go back to those familiar places. Even though I adore new experiences and pretty much always crave novelty, it was just nice not to have to look at menus or maps for a little while.

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On seeing old friends

This, unsurprisingly, was a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve grown up with most of my hometown buddies, so coming to college was the first time I’ve ever been without them. In some cases, we had a joyous reunion — so much to talk about, lots to show and tell and a clear intuition that we are in the same place in life right now. In other cases, I was shocked to find that we have already grown in almost completely different directions, and so had very little to talk about. Whether the experience was good or bad, seeing my old friends made me really miss my buddies here on campus. For me, it was eye-opening on how much more comfortable and at home I feel with my friends here than with (most of) my friends from my hometown.

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On cuisine

We all rag on dining hall food, but I’m ashamed to say it: I actually started to miss some Sadler cuisine while away. That’s not to say I’d prefer it to the delicious home cooking I had while on break, but let’s just say I was really craving one of those giant waffles from the dining hall. Maybe it was just that I was missing dinner with my friends a little bit, but I was dying to be back in that ambient, fluorescently lit atmosphere of the dining hall after a long day.

On sleeping

Honestly, the biggest shock for me was sleeping in my bed at home and actually ACHING for my bed back here on campus. I thought I’d hit the pillows like a rock at home, but I actually struggled to sleep for a while. Instead, I collapsed in random corners of my house, even falling asleep on my poor mother for more than two hours after Thanksgiving dinner. I think I slept more on my couch than I did in my actual bed.

These were just some of my experiences from going home for the first time since move-in and months of living virtually on my own for the first time in my life. Maybe some of this will change with time or perspective, but I found the whole experience a little jarring. I also came back to campus with a little more homesickness than what I left with, which is something I didn’t expect. “Home for the Holidays” has a whole new meaning to me now — for the holidays, you truly can’t beat home sweet home, no matter how jarring, melancholic or all-around weird it may be.


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