Home — this word means something entirely different to me now than I ever thought possible.

I always pictured my home as being the house I grew up in. The two-story blue and white house my parents own in Fresno, Calif. is what I imagined would always feel like home to me.

Little did I know, “home,” when in reference to this house, would soon feel funny to say. Now to me, home means my apartment on Cal Poly’s campus. It is where I spend most of my time and it is almost a part of me now.

Coming from someone who eagerly anticipated moving away to college since I was able to comprehend the idea, I never thought I would see the day when homesickness would hit — but when it does, it hits hard.

“I can totally handle this, no problem,” I reassured myself.

But I was wrong — I found myself saying, “You were wrong, very wrong.”

Maybe it was spurred by a lovely weekend spent with friends visiting from home, maybe it was just a matter of time or maybe it was the heartbreaking realization that while I have been away from home, the entire network of people I know — acquaintances, friends and family members alike — is growing, changing and moving on. It seems as though my friends and family are continuing on with their lives without me.

It is a lonely feeling, to say the least. The thought that Mom and Dad aren’t just around the corner waiting at the dinner table with welcoming arms after I finish class each night is beyond intimidating.

Accompanying the loneliness comes questions like “Have I been forgotten?” and “Do people miss me?”

While to friends and family on one side of the issue it may seem obvious a person’s presence is missed, but to me — the person on the other side — I am often left wondering whether or not those at home miss me too.

Just the thought of a home-cooked meal from my mother makes me salivate. The good times and memories my friends from home are having without me cannot be replaced. To watch my younger brother and sister grow up and become adults themselves is something I would now pay anything to see.

Although I have a whole new and wonderful life here in San Luis Obispo, leaving behind what I have known for the last 18 years is no easy feat. I have had to adapt to my new surroundings and learn to do it all on my own — for the first time ever.

What I’ve found to be especially difficult is the transition phase back-and-forth between a weekend at home and a week at Cal Poly. It is too much to ask a person to jump between two vastly different lifestyles twice within a matter of days. Once I begin to feel adjusted to my “actual” home again, it’s already time to leave.

But this is what life is about, right? Moving on, growing up and learning to do things all by myself are some of the most important lessons I will learn in life — or so I’m told.

Nobody likes to feel lonely but sometimes it is a necessary feeling to make a person stronger. In my own case, I have learned I cannot rely on my family to take care of my needs now. My family is at home and I am here, so I have no choice but to become self-sufficient.

Sydney Ray is a journalism freshman.

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