As a first-year student coming from a town 20 minutes away from Tufts, I needed to decide what presence I wanted my family and my home to have in my life at school. I knew that I wanted to throw myself headfirst into the college experience by meeting new people, trying new clubs and activities, and exploring the surrounding area on the weekends. I didn’t want to detract from this novel experience by going home on the weekends and missing out on the experiences when everyone was getting to know each other, so I barely went home in my first semester. Apart from Thanksgiving, I only went home for one night. This choice allowed me to immerse myself in the Tufts culture. I liked that I forced myself to adjust to living away from my family from the beginning. I don’t mean to give the impression that I cut my family out of my life. I actually came to appreciate them more once I left them. I still called and texted frequently, and they even visited me to out to eat several times a semester. I’m thankful that I was still able to see my family from time to time without having to remove myself from the Tufts environment.
Over the course of my time in college, I have continued to encounter benefits of my proximity to home. First, packing for college has never been stressful because I have always been able to drive to campus instead of flying, and my parents were willing to drop things off if I forgot them or didn’t realize until later that I needed them. For example, I left my winter clothes at home because I knew that I could just get them later. I also had the opportunity to have a lot of my friends from home visit me at school if they were home on break while I was still on campus. After my first year, I also started to take advantage of how easy it was for me to visit home. I would return on some weekends to see my family and friends. Any time one of my brothers had an important event, such as a band concert, I could go home just for the night to attend it. Last semester, when my dad got a puppy, I went home right away to meet him.
Living close to school also has its benefits after the school year ends. The summer after my freshman year, I worked for a day camp at Tufts, commuting from home each day. That experience was a great balance between spending time with family at home and friends at Tufts. This summer, I have been staying in my friend’s apartment right by campus while I work during the week and going home on the weekends, giving me the same opportunity to spend time with two groups of people that I care about.
People often ask me if it feels like I left home to go to college. Even though they are only twelve miles away from each other, home and college have felt like two separate worlds to me. My lifestyle and my social circles were distinct, and the differences have helped me think of Tufts as a place for trying new things and working hard and home as more of a place for relaxing and taking a break. I value the freedom I have to go home almost whenever I want. I’m comforted by the fact that I can always return to such a familiar space and decompress after a hectic week at school if I need to. Students here have the freedom to form a unique relationship with home when they come to college, and I’m glad that I’ve used mine as a source of support, not a barrier.