My parents were grinning ear to ear as they helped me pile in a van-load of clothing, books, and bedroom decor into my soon-to-be home. An odd mixture of excitement and terror formed in the pit of my stomach as we finished unpacking; the heart-wrenching first goodbyes would be ensuing in just few short moments. I had been picturing the goodbye scene for the past 3 months; ever since graduation I had been counting down the days until my new life would begin. But now the moment was suddenly upon me and all I wanted to do was go home: back to all my friends, to the familiar streets and stores, to my own room and my comfy bed. I took a deep breath and glanced over at my parents; they knew the goodbyes were nearing too. I just have to make it quick, I told myself, Just like ripping off a band-aid. I gave each of my parents a big hug, but kept my eyes trained on the ground the entire time. I could tell my mom was holding back the tears, but I couldn't risk looking her in the face and crying too. In the hall outside the dorm, we departed; my parents turned left towards the parking lot and back to Illinois while I went right, to go to the CFL and towards my future.
Walking away from my parents, from my past and into my future at Luther, I was terrified. I contemplated running back to my parents, telling them I wasn’t ready for this “college” thing yet. And then I looked at all the kids around me, a swarm of blue “Class of 2019” t-shirts signifying that everyone else was in the same exact boat. I couldn’t go back to Illinois, to my past; my present and future were here at Luther. And so I continued walking to the CFL, to the first of many first-year orientation activities set for that first exciting weekend. Sitting down amongst my new peers and future friends, I got carried away in the buzz of excitement filling the auditorium.
The next week flew by in a blur of ice-breaking activities and soft-served ice cream after every meal. I hadn’t known a soul when I first arrived; by the end of the week I had already amassed a large group of friends. While many of my friends from home called and texted me saying how homesick they were, I was grateful that my new friendships, coupled with the overwhelming sense of community at Luther, were lessening that same difficult feeling. With classes starting and a routine finally in place, I started feeling like maybe, just maybe, I had found my new home.