With Parents’ Weekend just around the corner, a lot of Lehigh students are making plans with their families to be able to spend time with them and show them what Lehigh is like. They might go watch the football game, get lunch or dinner with their parents and participate in some of the activities planned for Parents’ Weekend by the university.
Meanwhile, other students, who live farther away from campus, might not get the luxury of their family visiting them for a weekend.
For a lot of students who live in other countries or in far-away states, this is the weekend where we feel sort of left out. Of course, our friends and their families do a great job inviting us to eat with them and spend time with them, and we appreciate their kindness and generosity. But it just isn’t the same.
As they catch up with their families and talk about other family members, family friends and events going on in their hometown, all I can think about is what might be going on in my hometown with my family members and friends. As they go through family jokes, I laugh halfheartedly and think of my family’s inside jokes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks these things.
Going far away from home to study definitely has its downsides, and not seeing your family is the biggest one of them. Being around people who take care of you in these instances when the distance is an issue, like inviting you to their homes during breaks and their parents thinking of you when they come down for Parents’ Weekend, really helps and makes you feel like you have an extended network of “family.” But sometimes I can’t help being jealous of students who study near their hometown.
They get to see their families, go home for breaks and live close enough that if they need help, their parents can come lend a hand.
I know I chose to live far away, and so did countless of other students, so why am I complaining?
Just as there are many bad sides to being far away, I believe it helps in other ways.
It helps you to not take your family for granted because, even though when you’re home they might annoy you, when you’re far away, you realize these little annoyances are what you miss most. Also, it helps you realize how much your parents do for you and how much these little assistances go a long way.
Not being able to go home for breaks helps you appreciate other peoples’ generosity when it come to inviting you into their homes and taking you in, almost as one of their own.
Your parents not being around helps you become more self-sufficient and independent, since you can’t rely on their help because sometimes it’s impossible for them to be able to come help.
All these things that you overcome by yourself bring you closer and closer to experiencing what life as an adult, life on your own, is like. Parents will always be there, but at that point, you’re solving your own problems.
Of course, everybody learns to be more independent as they go through their college life, regardless of where they come from. But being farther away from home helps put things in perspective.
So, if there’s anything I have come to realize from living far away, it’s two things: people in general are kinder than we give them credit for. Every time I say I can’t go home for breaks, near strangers offer up their homes to me and invite me so I won’t be alone. The other thing I’ve learned is that family is completely irreplaceable.