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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

'home' and college and real life {florence files}

31 days left in this beautiful place that's just starting to feel like home. Three months have flown by painlessly and without regard. Four days of classes followed by 3 days of traveling has played on repeat for what seems like most of my time here. 6 out of 11 countries down and more hours on public transportation that I care to remember, I'm still not feeling those home sickness pangs. Because the things I miss about home are things I would miss even if I was at college in Clemson. My big marshmallow queen size bed with fluffy pillows, waking up to my cute lil lab puppy licking my face, and my mom's cooking. Going away to college made me realize how good of a cook my mom is- sad realities. 8 hours away from home is not a weekend type of trip. It's a painful drive I avoid making unless there's no way around it- shoutout to my dad for the flights home for the holidays. I make it home 3-4 times a year from Clemson, so this long stretch of 4 months away from 'home' should've been a harder than it was.

The thing is, the concept of 'home' changes when you go to college. Freshman year it was like leading 2 separate lives- not chic and very clunky. Keeping up with the new and the old was exhausting and felt like more of something that I had to do than what I wanted to do. But, after the first semester, you shave a few friends off the list. And come spring, you don't find yourself missing them. Then finals week rolls around, and instead of being absolutely giddy to get home to everything old and familiar- you're finally happy right where you are in your little college bubble. And then comes the dangerous reference to your college as home moment. At least my mom didn't cry when it slipped the first time.

Even though I'm not the biggest fan of Virginia, going back to a town where I've lived most of my whole life (18 years to be exact) is something that's always refreshing. Yes- as soulless as I seem about Fredericksburg, a weekend or so every now and then is just what I need to remind me I'm bigger and better than the city I left behind. And I'm always happy to leave- always. (You didn't actually think me referring to good ole fredvegas was going to end nicely did you? Bless.)

OF COURSE I miss my dog and my mom and my dad. I miss my bed and my big walk in closet that has exploded into a chaotic mess since college. I miss driving my cute little gray car full of bumper stickers and yankee candle smell goods down the backroads to my house and going to my favorite restaurants and limited selection of decently cute stores in town. I miss going to the farmer's market with my mom every Saturday and always convincing her to buy me some type of flower or soap or something.

But it's not the place that makes it home- it's the people and the things. Move all those features about Fredericksburg to Clemson and I would never leave.

Well, so I thought. Until I spent a semester in Florence. It took awhile, but after coming back from 10 days in Greece's beautiful euphoric presence I was overjoyed to make it back to the train station in Florence and know exactly where I was. It finally felt like home- what an absolutely absurd feeling in a city that's not even close to being the same country you grew up in.

I'm 20, I'm about to be a junior in college, I'm from Virginia, go to Clemson University, and spent a semester in Florence- and all 3 feel just as much like home as the others.

Here's why:

Your first home, your childhood home will always be home to you as much as you try to hate it (like me). I think the only reason I probably managed to salvage my relationship with my hometown was because I left. I hated it so much I never wanted to look back. Kinda like angsty middle schoolers and how they feel about their parents. :) But, with time, I could appreciate it at least a little. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the day I move back, but it's where a crap ton of good and bad memories happened. All that led me to my next home- Clem.

College is weird in the way that it just smacks you in the face. For me, I felt at home from the beginning. I always compare Clemson to trying on a wedding dress and knowing it's 'the one.' Even though I have yet to do that, I imagine that's what it'd be like, or even better. Because when you're on your own, truly on your own, not just home alone for a weekend while your parents travel to celebrate their anniversary, you make friends and experiences that shape that place into home. No one  can say they didn't change at least slightly in college- for me it was more than slightly. When you credit a place with changing you, you can't help but be appreciative for the place that made that happen. All that led me to my next home- Florence.

Studying abroad is a strange experience, because in my fourth semester of college I felt like I was starting over again. New housing, no friends, new city, and on top of that new country. Imagine getting a fresh start from college.. at another college. Like transferring, but not, because you'll be going back. It was weird trying to still act like a Clemson student when I wasn't. At least not for the semester. Clemson wasn't the greatest host for their study abroad students, which I hated them for at first, but now I'm ok with, because it gave me the freedom to love my college in Florence, Lorenzo de Medici, just as much as Clemson. It also gave me the 'small college experience' which I learned to appreciate, but have learned I definitely prefer a bigger college feel. Small classes sometimes of just 9 other students (yes.....) can't compare to the 600 person lecture I had fall semester. Florence made me give up the sense of anonymity as a college student that I jumped onto at Clem. Professors had the power to call me out in class- by name. They remembered if I didn't make it to class and always took attendance and I couldn't hide from them if I saw them in public- ciao. :---) It was a much needed wakeup call that I didn't know I needed. I was becoming independent to the point of self destruction at Clemson. I always made an effort to know the professors I liked, but, I surely didn't give a crap if it was my math professor. Most notably, the Italian way of always being relaxed always and about everything made college so much more enjoyable. I was forced to realize that even though I love Clemson, it's not the only college I can be happy at- which for someone who was set on Clemson since 16 hit hard. Besides college logistics, being abroad matures your relationships faster than you can keep track of. I finally feel like I have adult relationships because keeping in touch with people with travel, time change, and different life schedules is a feat. Florence was a blessing because it showed me things about my life I didn't even know I wanted to change.

You could be sappy and say the progression of my 'homes' have moved from: who I was, who I am, and who I want to be- respectively. But it wasn't a sudden force or a day that made me realize that all of these places were home now. Slowly and gently it just happened- like anything meant to be the pieces fell together perfectly and the realization was there when the dust settled.

I'm sad to leave this new home, but excited to go home for summer and then to my other home in August for fall semester. Clemson made me miss Virginia, and Virginia made me miss Clemson. Florence made me miss Clemson, but I know both Virginia & Clemson will make me miss Florence.

Just home, college, and real life things.

XO,
Dev

PS me in Flo town ----->




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