Weekend at home is a rare treat that reminds you to be thankful

College is crazy. Every day, we’re hustling from class to class, attending club meetings and social events and studying our butts off. We’re busy, but we love it. University of Illinois is an awesome school to be at.

Home, on the other hand, is a sacred place. Suburbia’s slower-paced lifestyle is filled with quality time with our loved ones and our mommies’ cooking.

This weekend, I finally ventured 139 miles north to the lovely Hinsdale, Ill. I got to see my parents, my two younger brothers, my friends, my friends’ families, my gramma and my dog. I got to eat my mom’s home-cooked spaghetti, a Portillo’s hot dog, baby back ribs at The Patio and my brother’s 16th birthday cake from my favorite bakery in the entire world. I got to run my familiar jogging route, drive around town like a boss and go to my own little heaven, also known as the Oak Brook Mall.

Suffice it to say, this weekend was amazing.

But as the bus pulled away and headed back toward central Illinois, I couldn’t help but feel like crying. I didn’t realize how much I missed home until I actually went back.

I sat on the bus and looked around. Most kids had their headphones on, a few were desperately trying to connect to the Suburban Express Wi-Fi, and some were simply staring out the window.

I wondered if they were just as sad as I was to go back to school.

I decided to strike up some light conversation with the guy sitting next to me, Bobby McAllister, sophomore in DGS.

“On the bus rides back, I usually have mixed feelings,” he said. “I mean, I love being at school with all of my friends, but I definitely enjoy being home. The food, my dog, the relaxing atmosphere. … Yeah, it’s really nice to spend a weekend away once in a while.”

With that, Bobby stuck his earphones in and starting watching a TV show on his iPod. I tapped on the shoulder of the girl sitting in front of me.

Stephanie Schmidt, senior in Education, said she usually only goes home on breaks and the occasional weekend.

“I’m super busy, and weekends at school are a time to hang out with friends and get work done,” she told me.

Between my extracurricular activities and classes, my schedule is constantly booked, which is why this past weekend was the first time I was able to head back home.

But when I asked Stephanie how it felt going back to Champaign-Urbana, she answered differently that I expected.

“Going back to school feels good,” she said.

“Really? Good? So you don’t feel sad as the bus pulls out of the mall parking lot?”

“Nope. Not at all. I’m just appreciative. After a nice weekend at home with my family, I always feel thankful,” Stephanie said.

I leaned back in my seat and chewed over that word: thankful. I should be thankful, too.

After all, my weekend had been filled with fabulous food, family and friends. Why sit on the bus and mope when I could count my blessings instead?

And so as we drove past cornfields and the sun began to set, my demeanor changed. I realized that I could be thankful, too. Thankful for the weekend at home and thankful for the fact that I was headed back to the school that I love.

_Melanie is a freshman in Media._