COLUMN: Collegiate Nomads
Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 23:10
I’ll be honest, sometimes I dread coming back to school. It’s not that I hate Boston College or wish I was back in high school, but I always seem to struggle with the transition between school and home. Every Thanksgiving break or beginning of a new semester, I grapple with where home is for me and where I’m rooted. Just when I start to get used to the routine, the feel, the ease of one place, it’s time to go back to the other. Maybe it’s the six-hour car journey or the well-established “BC Bubble” that can often feel like another world, but as a college student it can be challenging to define home because it can seem so ever-changing. Your old childhood room has been converted into your mom’s new office, and your freshman year “home” in Kostka is now inhabited by strangers given an entirely new room code. I guess we’re always taught home is where the heart is, but what if your heart is in two places? Or more than two places? Does one place become the “home away from home?” Which one is which? Now you see my point—the life of a college student can often feel like a nomadic existence.
For many, this can be liberating and almost spontaneous. Between a semester abroad and a summer job in a new city, say, a BC student could potentially lay claim to four or five different zip codes in a year. This reality can be thrilling and exciting, yet simultaneously exhausting and overwhelming.
These turbulent times certainly come with a silver lining, though. The people we associate with “home” (wherever that may be) come to define it and make it our place. Roommates, siblings, parents, friends—the people we care about, related to us or not, become our family, our amorphous home. This seems like a pretty trivial concept, but in practice it holds a lot of weight. The life of a collegiate nomad can get lonely. It’s an interesting paradox—surrounded by and living with 9,000 of our peers, one could ask how it’s even possible to feel alone. But it happens, whether you’re sitting by yourself in Mac for a meal or walking from your house off campus to Bapst on your own, and perhaps it’s a side effect of this “wanderer” persona we college students adopt.
Bear in mind, I don’t think we’re all wanderers in the sense that we’re completely lost. Sure, some of us may not know what we want to do once we graduate, or even what we’re majoring in. I think it’s safe to say, though, that we aren’t just chickens running around with our heads cut off. We each have an idea of what we want, whether we know it or not. It’s not that we’re lost, we can just be found in many different places, both geographically and in where our passions lie. In the process of testing out classes, new clubs, and groups over the course of a college career, a BC student can seem all over the map, sometimes spread very thin.
This can be a bit of a struggle in itself, but it’s important to realize that we should try to embrace the volatile period that is college. I see it as sort of a “rite of passage,” and for someone (like me) who’s not the greatest at going with the flow, it can be a challenge. As much as it pains me to do this (because, believe me, there are far more quotable people out there), I think Taylor Swift hits on something that explains what I mean in her song “22.” In the chorus, she sings “we’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time / it’s miserable and magical.” Like I said, I don’t think Ms. Swift should be used as a valuable source for everything, but these lyrics are a working depiction of what it feels like to be a college kid sometimes. We may hate the turbulent unknown, bouncing from one place to the next, but it’s okay. This is a time in our lives when home can be wherever we want it to be, from our parents’ house to our best friend’s Mod and everything in between.