First (Year) Impressions: Living and thriving with new roommates

As we move into second semester, something keeps coming up in my conversations: home. Now that I’ve been back “home” for a month, and have returned to Macalester, I’ve been wondering — where am I more comfortable? In the middle of a conversation over winter break, I found myself saying, “I’ll be flying home mid-January.”

And then I would have to stop — wasn’t I already home? Or had Macalester inadvertently, unconsciously become my idea of home?

As it turns out, defining “home” means dealing with fluidity. And it means reconciling the person you are at Macalester with the person you were a year ago, back home.

“A lot of people feel like they change in college,” said Cody Suesser ’20. “But when you go home, people still view you as the same person. You don’t feel like you’re the same person you were back home, so it’s this strange question of whether or not you actually changed at college.”

Although it feels like my life, and I myself, have changed since coming to Macalester, I lacked the context needed to show people back home how I had changed. While visiting a friend who goes to school in Portland, she said, “I would love to see you at college.”
I laughed. “Why? You’re seeing me now.”

“Yeah, but it’s different,” she replied. “I want to see who you are, who you hang out with, where you go on weekends.”

I realized that she was right, and that like Suesser, I felt like I changed in obvious ways over first semester. But that change was anchored in location, at Macalester.

Aside from noticing the differences between home and Macalester, students had a chance to relax and take some time for themselves. “I was just productive enough to justify my existence over break,” joked Theo Caskey ’20.

After a semester of a lot of learning, talking, studying, failing and growing up, winter break wasn’t just a time away from work, but also away from the half-adulting phase we entered as first years.

“College is a time of pseudo-adulthood,” Caskey said. “I’m independent in many ways, but still pretty dependent on my parents, so I don’t really feel like I’m really an adult yet.”

But after a few weeks of lounging around, some Macalester first years seemed ready to come back. “It felt so much longer than I thought it would be,” Claire Howland ’20 said. “I felt really ready to come back by week three.”

Although Macalester isn’t quite home to some first years yet, it might be because we are stuck in between the phases of adolescence and adulthood, which justifies being stuck between the two worlds of Macalester and home.

“I wouldn’t say Macalester is home yet,” Howland said. “That’s definitely still Milwaukee. But it is becoming more comfortable at Macalester.”

I decided to give up on finding a single place to define as home, and a single definition of what it means to be an adult. Both are always changing. It might be an inevitable dilemma, after one chooses to depart from the previous idea of “home.”