Three words: we are back! From the many bike crashes I have unfortunately witnessed around campus, to the painfully optimistic commentary on the difficulty of classes in the dining hall, to the bookstore line flooding out the door, it is clear that fall quarter is in full swing. Of course, I am so happy to be back in the world of CS p-sets and Olives sandwiches, but there is no doubt that there are differences between living back home versus in a dorm with 120 other college students.
I spent the summer in Dayton, Ohio with my parents and sisters. By the end of the school year, I was very ready to go back home. I missed spending afternoons running errands with my mom or walking the golf course with my dad. I missed my bed and waking up to home cooked meals. I missed arguing with my sisters over what movie to watch, and I missed going out into the community and knowing people almost everywhere I went. When people ask me if I was happy to leave Ohio to go to school, I always respond the same way. Home will always be where I grew up.
That being said, what I didn’t anticipate is the feeling of being home when coming back to Stanford this year. Toward August, I started missing the routine of classes and meeting up with friends, and I knew that I was getting ready to come back. But when I moved into my dorm a few weeks ago, it was more than just being happy to be back in school. I love having my own space to go back to at the end of the day. I love the freedom of being able to step out the door at any time to go on walks, study outside or meet up with friends. I love that I set my schedule for each day and that it is up to me to see my plans through.
But beyond my own routines, I love the community that each of us get to be a part of here. It has been such a feeling of comfort to connect with people I spent time with last year in the dorms and around campus and to hear about their summers and goals for the coming quarter. I feel so grateful to speak with professors and course staff that are committed to making my experience in a class meaningful. I feel so excited to continue meeting people and joining groups that fit with the many different aspects of my identity. More than anything, I am so happy to know that the energy of a new school year is not just internal. I encounter it each time I walk outside my room and feel the buzz of students and faculty alike.
I’m sure that as the weeks pass, it will be easy to start missing my home in Ohio again, but what returning to Stanford has shown me is that the same is true when I’m away from campus. This place, these people and this energy provide another, different sense of belonging, and I, like thousands of people from across the globe, am so blessed to call Stanford my home-away-from-home.
Contact Trisha Kulkarni at trishak8 ‘at’ stanford.edu.