Finals are over! You can smell the home cooking over the dirty laundry in your luggage awaiting a quarter-less washing machine at home. Your bed—not the dorm bed you have endured the past three or four months—awaits your body’s collapse for a Rip Van Winkle like sleep. And then there is home cooking—not the meal plan back at college and not three-day old pizza—that awaits your taste buds and stomach that reminds you, there’s no place like home.
Going home for the first time after the excitement of your first semester of Freshman year in college has a lot of things going for it. But there are also some things you might want to consider before heading home the best it can be.
Tips for Coming Home from College for the Holidays
Everyone has expectations when you come home for the holidays. Your parents want to spend time with you because they have missed you. Siblings may or may not want to spend time with you and they may or may not have missed you (reality check, they may have already taken over your old room). You have missed friends or possibly your boyfriend who went to a different college. But one thing is certain: there are unspoken expectations that need to be communicated.
Prior to coming home, talk to your parents about what they have planned for your trip home. Are there any family events you need to know about? Will there be time for you to visit with friends? If you have a weekend trip planned with your friends, share with them your plans and when you are planning to be away. The more you communicate prior to heading home, the less tension there will be when you get home and the less hurt feelings.
Help Out Without Being Asked
Often times your family will expect you to help out when you are home. This might include driving younger siblings around, shopping for Christmas gifts, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, doing chores around the house to get ready for guests, or even helping cook.
Ask your parents if they need help with anything, clean the bathroom without being asked, and do the dishes after dinner without being asked. This is a sign of maturity. Don’t wait for your parents to ask you to do something; instead, see a need and just respond. It shows your parents you can take care of yourself and that you have been taking care of your self for the past few months. It will go a long way to show respect but it will also help them see the amazing woman you have become.
Be Vulnerable and Honest
Sometimes your first semester has not gone according to plan. Maybe you didn’t get the grades you expected and are now on academic probation. You might be really tight on money and are working two jobs and still not making it and that is causing you a ton of stress. No one expects you to have “adulting” down to a science your first semester. Be honest about what is causing you stress, where you are experiencing loneliness, and where you are just plain struggling.
On the flip side, you might be in a new relationship, you have decided that you want to change majors and are really passionate about the new one you have chosen, or you have a chance to go on mission during Spring Break with your university. Share the wonderful things God is doing in your life and give glory to God for how He is teaching you to praise Him and lean into His grace while in college.
During the first semester or quarter you are not friends with your alarm. Your parents are not going to fully comprehend that your brain has been overworked and you are tired! That and you probably have not been keeping the same schedule you kept as a high school senior. You are used to studying till 9 or 10 p.m. and then going out with friends until the morning hours. Your parents probably don’t know this, but you might want to fill them in instead of hiding it. Be transparent with your parents and it will go a long way.
Also, do what you would normally would do for self care. If you are used to working out or going for a run, do it. If you have become vegan, warn your parents and offer to hit Whole Foods with them to share how you have been eating. Maybe you just want to watch the Hallmark Chanel and binge Hallmark Christmas movies (no judgement).
Basically, be sure to care for your self as much as you care for the the ones you love most during the holidays.
If your parents are divorced, or going through the beginnings of separation since you went away to college, your winter break will be radically different than your childhood. While you were a minor, holidays were pretty determined by the courts and parents: Thanksgiving with dad and Christmas with mom. Now, as an adult, it might get a little more complicated and you will have more say in where you go on any certain holiday.
Keep siblings in mind when figuring out where and when you will be visiting each parent since they are often the ones who have no say in what is going on and you want to be there for them as much as possible. It has been harder on them with you leaving than you realize. More than anything, give over any feelings of loss or hurt to your heavenly Father and be honest with you parents about what you are feeling. The more you can pray through this as a family, the more healing will happen for everyone.
Your first Christmas home is always a time where you reconnect with your high school friends you have been texting and FaceTiming with for months. But be prepared for these relationships to be different. You have changed, so it can only be assumed your friends have changed as well. If you have kept up a long distance relationship, your boyfriend more than likely has changed as well.
This might mean there are some honest conversations that need to happen, possibly even some distancing of relationships or break ups. For some you might find that you have gown closer because of the distance. Whatever the scenario is, keep Christ in the center of every relationship and ask the question: is this relationship leading me closer to or further away from God?
There is a strong possibility your faith has changed since going away to college. For some of you, it will be stronger. Others, regular Mass attendance may have slipped in the midst of college schedules. Regardless, be honest with your parents and share where you are in your faith life.
If your faith has grown, share with them how much it means to you. Maybe you went on a retreat that had you encounter God in a new way. Maybe, you want to go to the SEEK Conference in January before heading back to school. Discuss what your relationship with God means to you and how it has grown and possible invite your mother into doing the Advent Bearing Light Devotional with you over the remaining weeks of Advent.
If your faith has weakened, or if sin has separated you from God, find out when a local Reconciliation service is and get face-to-face with the God who can heal it all. Be open to going to Mass with your family instead of rolling your eyes. Admit to your parents questions you might have about your Faith, but be open to the answers. If your parents don’t have them, find a priest or maybe you youth minister from high school to seek out answers. Basically, don’t close the door and accept being a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) Catholic. If you have questions, seek answers.
Enjoy Coming Home!
As you can see, going home for Christmas break can have its ups and downs. But hopefully this little list of things to think about will help prepare your heart and have you pray into some things on your plane ride or drive home. Know that we as a Blessed is She sisterhood are praying for you.
Will you be traveling home from college this holiday season? What are you most excited for? What makes you the most nervous about coming home?Tips for Coming Home from College #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Tricia Tembreull is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a California girl with a boundless passion for life. After two decades of ministering to teens and youth ministers as a trainer, ministry mentor, and speaker in Catholic youth ministry, Tricia now serves as Campus Minister at USC Caruso Catholic Center. She loves adventure and seeks it everywhere she goes. As an avid foodie, she enjoys testing new recipes out on friends and family, gathering them around the table to encounter Christ in one another and be drawn to the satisfying unity we crave in the Eucharist.