By Alaina Mattingly | November 23, 2020
Winter Break can be a time of mixed emotions and adjustments for students. Each student will have different levels of anticipation for winter break. My friend could not wait to go home, but the day she left to go home, she cried. No matter how ready you feel to go home for break, friends at school become family. I have always been a homebody and am very close with my family. Each time I return home, I feel like somewhat of an outsider. My brothers are involved in school activities still, there are new lights in the kitchen, and I have to ask where the pans are because they have been moved since I was last home. It can be difficult to fall back into a home routine.
However, each person will eventually fall back into some sort of routine. I work full time when I go back home. It felt like I had gone back to high school because I was home and seeing my friends from work every day. It was difficult for me to remember to keep in touch with friends from Marian. This is something that I wish I had done better my first year because I have realized how important it is to be intentional about these new friendships. Perhaps if I had done this there would have been less anxiety about returning for the spring semester.
As it drew closer, I became more anxious. I was not ready to return to school, despite my amazing friends and my love for classes. I cried a lot of tears the week leading up to the spring semester and so did my mom. I did not want to say goodbye again, but then I felt guilty for wasting my time at home being upset. It was a feeling that re-emerged when returning from summer break. I knew what to expect at home and the unknown was terrifying. College life can be a wild ride of unexpected changes to plans and homework stress, but more than this, Marian feels very separate from the world. When I go home for breaks, it feels like I am stepping into a different life. A life where I go to work every day, cook dinner, run errands for my family, and have free time to enjoy.
The advice that I would give is to expect there to be a shift in your family dynamic. Relationships with your students may feel different. People change and evolve; your student will be different in some aspect. Allow your student to have space if they need it. It was an adjustment going from my best friend being right down the hall to wanting to be home at a reasonable hour. Ask your student specific questions, be involved. By the beginning of my sophomore year, my mom knew all of my friends’ names and my home life and college life felt more intertwined. Most importantly, you know your student best and will be able to recognize any needs they have returning home.