At some point after getting used to living independantly as an adult, you’ll probably want/have to pop home, either because it’s a holiday and you’re going to be sat in an empty house if not (or the University are turfing you out of halls so they can clean/maintain them and rent them out for conferences like my campus did in Year 1), or you just fancy a weekend at home to see how everyone is doing and you miss the family. Whatever the occasion, if it’s the first time you’ll certainly spot some of the points below, with others still appearing each and every time you visit. For the verterans that have done this before, please feel free to expand on the list in the comments below with your own experiences.
The first point though, is an exception and must be said in advance to those who may be reading this ahead for Uni next year:
Follow the Three Week Rule
Whilst it can be a sad time being away from home and on your own at uni, it’s important for parents/guardians and students alike to follow the three week rule. The acual timing for this seems to be debateable but the around a month period didn’t hurt me. If you parents visit too early, or you go home too early, you won’t have as much time to establish that ‘housemate’ feeling with your fellow peers more than a fleeting friendship you will have from meeting a random person during a night out or the people you meet in the same hotel as you when on holiday. It will also intefere with your adaption of learning to be an adult and take care of yourself, sometime converting you into someone who feels that they have to rely on living with their parents to survive rather than just choosing to stay close to them.
If your parents/guardians support you away from home, that’s still fine and different as at the end of the day, you still have to make the decisions on food/cleaning/laundry (delete as appropriate) and when/where to do your assignment, reading and studying without having to be reminded by your parents on a daily basis.
Think of it like healing a piercing – close it too early and you’ll risk not being able to stick your jewelry back in and have the risk of bad stuff happening (in a piercing’s case , infections). However pnce you’re over the threshold and used to doing things yourself, it’s then safe to go back and visit knowing you’ll still be able to go back to uni and carry on independantly too (or in the analogy case, still able to put your jewelry back in after taking it out for a short time).
It sounds a bit vauge, but it’s true that the first time you go back, it does feel a little different. You’re home, but you’re not. Now if you’re a homebody or family oriented person this might be a great feeling that you’re back where you ‘belong’ and that’s wonderful for you. If you’re not, then it might be a wake up call for the future. Either way, stepping over that threshold will certainly stir some sort of emotion the first time round at the least.
Embrace this feeling, it’ll help you illustrate the difference between home and uni life. There’s nothing wrong with either and it’s completely fine to live both independantly. University is a time for discovering yourself and having the opportunity to ‘let loose’, but there’s also nothing wrong with ‘coming home’ back to your roots and nobody can tell you different. The important thing is to be yourself in both scenarios, even if that you is multifacated and respect both sides equally.
‘Independance’ Takes On A Whole New Meaning
Again, this statement will vary depending on the person.
Some people who may enjoy this feeling of living under parent’s rules again and that’s okay, just make sure it’s a healthy feeling as at some point in time you will need to learn to be independant (a lesson that took me a long time to learn). If you are more independant will have relished the feeling of being (pretty much) your own boss in your own space. When you go home, this world may completely change. You’re no longer in ‘your’ space, you’re under your parents roof and under their rules and have to follow what they say (even if they say ‘help yourself to anything, you still sometimes feel you have to ask!).
This seems fair when you think about it as it’s only the same as when you visit another friend or family member’s house. But at the same time, it’s your home and your bedroom so you feel like you should be able to live like you did before. But is it your room now? Since you moved out it may be been converted or used as a spare room. I was lucky and got to keep my room (albeit redecorated and refurnished in neutral colours over time to serve the dual purpose of being my new space, but a spare room when I’m not there), but at the same time, I felt like I must tidy it at the end of my visit because when I went back, it wasn’t my room again for a time.
The ‘Free Food’ & ‘No Bills’ Feels Like Heaven
So towards the end of October, unless you’ve already found a job or your parents/guardians haven’t cut you off yet, you’ve probably realised that your student loan/savings isn’t going to last forever and so may already be in the process of eating noodles, baked beans (where do you think the blog title came from?) and the cheapest stuff you can find in the supermarket. So the prospect of having food cooked for you and being able to use the shower without questioning it feels like heaven all of a sudden.
Having the extra saving does feel fantastic and may provide you with an opportunity to spend a bit more when meeting up with friends or finally buying that something you’ve been touturing yourself with when online shopping and making that mile long wishlist grow.
Enjoy it whilst you can, though remember that you will still have to save some money for food when you go back to uni (post your blue-cross style hamper you may get to take back with you of course!) and pay those all important bills so that you don’t take cold-trickling showers in the pitch dark. It’s also worth bearing in mind the kindness of your parents/guardians whilst you’re poor as in the future it might only come back around on you when your kids do the same thing ;). It will also show you the luxury of budgeting and saving up so that you may get to enjoy this feeling in the future when income isn’t such a huge concern (that said I’m still working on and waiting to see if that will happen several years on!)
The Humbling Value of Your Family
When you grew up, it was easy to feel that everything would just be done for you, that those chores you were made to do were just to make your parents/guardians happy and their lives easier and that leaving your homework to the last minute was fine because it’ll all work out in the end. But after you’ve been at uni for a while you start to realise those chores helped you learn how to look after yourself, those things that your folks did you may have to do now and (not as much in first year) that homework actually counts towards to passing the year and getting your degreee. So to go back to the more unwinding paradise of being home again can sometimes feel as welcome refreshment and really value all the stuff that seem so easy in comparison from pre-uni life.
So just before you go (or during if it’s more appropriate), make sure to say thanks to your folks for everything. They’ll say you’re being silly, but you know they’ll appreciate it.
As always, I’ve inevitably missed out a lot of points that you feel happened to you, and I encourage you to share these in the comments section below. Have any of you felt any of these since you’ve been back?