When I booked my Thanksgiving Break flights in early October, I begged my dad to spend an extra hundred dollars so that I could spend a full week at home, instead of returning to Stanford early Friday morning. Now, on this final night of break, I wish I had acquiesced to my father.
The eleven weeks prior to break were the longest I’ve ever been away from home, which has made these past seven days of being in New York a whirlwind of experiences. Below is a summary of my first trip home as a Stanford freshman.
Sunday, November 21- Going Home
I was astonished at how quickly time had passed since I left for SPOT. I felt like my life was on fast-forward for eleven weeks and that all I could feel was the déjà vu of flying to school in September.
Waiting at the baggage claim felt like a reality check. More real people than Stanford people surrounded me, it was cold and cloudy, and my Stanford ID was of no use—I actually had to pay for food!
Felt light-headed stepping onto the sidewalk in front of our house. It looked surreal. My room was somewhat musty and the floor was covered in dust. I wasn’t sure what to make of the time difference, so I just went to bed early.
Monday, November 22 – Adjusting
What I did this day is unclear. All I remember my watch-alarm going off at 8 a.m. PST and being confused as to whether that meant it was 5 a.m. or 11 a.m. EST. (I slept until 2-ish). Sent emails to the Alondra and SLE mailing lists from outside the Stanford network.
Called Stanford “home” without realizing it an inestimable number of times.
Tuesday, November 23 – The City (Take One) and Visiting school
Volunteered to get up at 6 a.m. (read: 3 a.m.PST) to take my sister to school in the city. Discovered my dad now drives my mother and sister to the train station (I walked the mile distance every day). Felt empowered in my Stanford sweatshirt and really wanted someone to comment on it so I could say, “Yeah, I go to Stanford.” (No one did.)
Once in the city, I missed two subway trains at the same time—felt shame calling myself a real New Yorker.
Got to school in time to visit my House (homeroom). Seven new freshmen replaced the seven members of my class that had graduated. Ran into about twenty of my classmates, who were also visiting. Had nothing more to say than “I’m having a great time at college,” when everyone asked how Stanford was. Got the run-down on all the senior class’ early applicants and saw them all freaking out. One classmate aptly summed up what I was feeling: “It seems like years since we’ve been out of high school, but only two days since we started college,” she said.
My roommate, who was visiting New York for break, spent the night at my house. My mother pinched his cheeks when she saw him (he’s twenty, mind you), but all else was fine. Felt weird sleeping in two separate rooms.
Wednesday, November 24 – The City (Take Two), Semi-reunion with friends
Despite the weather being in the high 40s and windy, I realized I missed the cold. And seeing trees without leaves. Finally, a real fall.
Had brunch with some of my friends—the Harvard and Yale kids (roughly half the group) had all seen each other multiple times and knew each other’s friends. Was the butt of a number of California jokes.
Felt like a tourist in my own city when my friends decided to watch some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons being blown up, then realized I was essentially a tourist, visiting New York for seven days, and that it actually felt great.
Thursday, November 25 – Thanksgiving & Football
Went to the Jets’ Thanksgiving Night game (made up for having to wait at the airport on Sunday). Felt weird not ringing my keys, smelling garlic fries, or hearing “All Right Now” whenever we scored. Realized Big Game was my last Stanford football game of the season and felt immensely depressed. Also realized that, as a non-football fan before this quarter, I mostly only like Stanford football. I do have a greater appreciation for professional football now, though.
Friday, November 26 – Real reunion with friends
Final trip into the city to see my friends. Everyone seemed the same, just slightly older. A lot of our discussion was about changes or people at high school, stories from the Harvard-Yale Game weekend, and differences between our colleges (in case you didn’t know, Stanford has better weather, better food, a better roommate pairing system, a quarter system, no reading week, and free laundry!). Sadly, no one else was excited by Big Game or LSJUMB.
It felt good to use lingo or make jokes that no one but I understood for eleven weeks.
Got home at 2 a.m. for the first time and didn’t get in trouble.
Saturday, November 27 – Lazy Day
Went to bed at 5 again and slept until 5 p.m.
Watched the Stanford-Oregon St. game and wished I could be at Stanford Stadium. Heard tidbits of the Band, our first-down cheer, and Red Zone ruckus, but they weren’t enough. Decided to book Winter Break tickets based on which BCS we’re in.
Sunday, November 28 – Going Home
As I write this, I am sitting on a bed that feels foreign to me. I’ve grown used to the luxury of a mattress topper and the heat involved with sleeping on bed that is lofted inches from the ceiling. I’m living out of a suitcase in a room that is lacking a roommate. My work lamp and iPod speakers are out of place, borrowing space on a desk that has never touched college work.
When I open the door, I don’t see “Professor Patrique,” Alondra’s wonderful RCC, playing video games with his nocturnal friends, a gigantic sign that says “You are amazing,” with a small note specifying “in bed,” hanging on the end of the wall. I don’t have to stop in two or three rooms before finally reaching the bathroom, where I don’t need to use a paper seat cover or have to wear shower shoes. I could even take a bath, if I feel so inclined. While the bathroom changes are more than welcome, I miss everything else about my dorm, and Stanford at-large.
(I still haven’t figured out a way to clarify whether I mean Stanford or New York when I say “home,” but for now, I’ll use lower- and uppercase letters.)
It’s 2 a.m. EST and I’m looking forward to going “home” to Stanford for another two weeks, before returning “Home” to New York. Then, I’ll have more time to catch-up with friends and teachers one at a time and I’ll have more to talk about, having officially completed my first set of finals and my first quarter of freshman year.