Generations Yap About… Coming Home From College

December 1, 2017

 

 

If you’re a college freshman, this is likely the first time you’ve been away from home for an extended period of time. If you’re older, you remember that feeling: you’d been responsible for your own well-being and now you were headed back home under your parent’s roof.

 

How will things be the same and how will they be different? We begin this conversation by talking with two USF students Delainey Smith (Communication and Media Arts) and Carly Cosentino (Social Work).

 

When you came home for your first break did you feel like a different person? Did you think this personality would conflict with your parents?

 

Delainey Smith: I think when you go away to college, you always think you mature. When I came home for my first break at NIU, I was worried my parents and I would not get along, like when I was in high school. My mom and I always fought growing up—the normal teenage drama—so I figured things would go back to that.

 

Carly Cosentino: Yeah, I was a lot more independent at that time and my parents weren’t used to that. So, they still tried to like, baby me.

 

Was it an adjustment once you were home?

 

Delainey Smith: My parents were always very lenient, I didn’t have to come home and have a curfew or anything like that. The biggest adjustment was going back to a semi-regular time schedule. To me NIU was a different world; I would sleep all day, have late afternoon classes and then be up all night. While on break, I would be up making mac n’ cheese for dinner at 4 a.m. and my mom would be waking up to get ready for work.

 

Carly Cosentino: Yeah both ways. They had to accept that I was more independent and I had to realize, ‘I have to give them some slack because they haven’t seen me in a while.’

 

Did you and your parents have any conversations about how things were going to change? (i.e. did they care if you were out late as long as you called? Did they care if you slept in or made plans without telling them?)

 

Delainey Smith: Like I said my parents were always very lenient, I didn’t have many rules to abide by, however I wanted to spend more time at home rather than go out with my friends. I appreciated every minute being back at home, not eating ramen noodles on an uncomfortable bed in a ridiculously tiny dorm room.

 

Carly Cosentino: No. [….] It was the same as before I left [telling them where she was going at all times].

 

Did your parents expect you to take on more responsibility while you were home?

 

Delainey Smith: No, quite the opposite, my mom loves housework so, I was excited to go home and not have adult responsibilities like cleaning and doing laundry.

 

Carly Cosentino: No, not really.

 

Did you feel as though your parents had a mutual respect for you now that you’d had to take responsibility for yourself and your actions?

 

Delainey Smith: I am the first in my immediate family to attend college, so naturally my parents are very proud and respect my initiative to go out on my own to receive a higher education. So, they definitely began treating me more like an adult rather than a kid.

 

Carly Cosentino: Yeah, they were a lot more lenient about me going out, I just had to tell them like; I was leaving. But they were totally fine with me leaving when I wanted to.

 

Had the family dynamics changed while you were gone and was that an adjustment for you in and of itself?

 

Delainey Smith: The family dynamics didn’t change, however, my relationship with my parents definitely changed for the better after coming home. Not living under my parent’s roof made us become closer because they realized they missed me and I wasn’t the spawn of Satan.

 

Carly Cosentino: A little bit. They were more used to being by themselves and then they realized, “oh, we have a kid coming home again.” They would go out when I wasn’t home but then they would make plans and then realize, like, at the last minute that they forgot to tell me.

 

Now, let’s talk with English Instructor Kathryn Duys, who graduated from UC Berkeley but spent her freshman year at Georgetown University.

 

When you came home for your first break did you feel like a different person? Did you think this personality would conflict with your parents?

 

Professor Duys: The first time I went “home” after beginning college was at Christmas. I was going to school in Washington, D.C. (Georgetown Univ.) and my mother had moved to San Francisco so that was “home,” but I had never lived there.

 

I think that I was depending on being stable at my core because so much of my life had changed. I left home (Manila) and spent a year in Europe (until the money ran out). Then I came to the U.S. to study and was headed to SF for Christmas.

 

Was it an adjustment once you were home?

 

Professor Duys: I guess so.  But to tell the truth, being at “home” was hard, but being at school was harder because I felt pretty alien in the U.S.  I hung out with the international students—some of them were much older grad students.

 

Did you and your parents have any conversations about how things were going to change? (i.e. did they care if you were out late as long as you called? Did they care if you slept in or made plans without telling them?)

 

Professor Duys: I think that “to parent” was not yet a verb.  We just muddled through. There was always resentment and awkwardness, but there were nice things too. Since I had never lived in my mom’s apartment in San Francisco, I didn’t have a room there, or even a bed.  I was sleeping on the sofa over break.  In the living room, I was among the pieces of furniture that had always been in my home, tables I had played under as a toddler, etc. That familiarity was nice.

 

Did your parents expect you to take on more responsibility while you were home?

 

Professor Duys: Always, but it was not clear how I was supposed to do that.  As a college student, I was a financial drain on the family and made things more difficult for them. In the year that followed that first Christmas, I left Georgetown (which was too expensive for me), and transferred to UC Berkeley where I declared myself independent.  I could pay for my own education there—it cost $900/year.  So while I couldn’t help the others much, at least I didn’t need to lean on them.

 

Did you feel as though your parents had a mutual respect for you now that you’d had to take responsibility for yourself and your actions?

 

Professor Duys: Those were not my concerns.  I was not the center of my world, nor was I the center of my parents’ world.  It was more collective than that.  The whole family was central to everyone, and individuals were just part of that collective.  And since I had fewer problems and more advantages than the others (being at university), I felt some guilt about that.

 

Had the family dynamics changed while you were gone and was that an adjustment for you in and of itself?

 

Professor Duys: Yes, since my parents had split up, everything was chaotic inside the family, though on the surface, my mom made things look elegant and easy as always! Since my mom was working, we all had to pitch in. My brother was in charge of getting a Christmas turkey, which my sister was supposed to cook.  He arrived on Christmas morning at my mother’s apartment with a turkey that was frozen solid. We ended up going to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner.  We were the only ones there and they treated us like kings. It was great!

 

The Verdict:

As Delainey said, freedom to forge your own path is great but returning to your roots can be nice.  It is with a new perspective that you’ll begin to find your place but patience is the key. As Carly learned, this is just as much a transition for your parents as it is for you. However, like Professor Duys, you have to learn to roll with the punches, you’re an individual part of a bigger unit, not just of your family, but your world.

 

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