Don’t take going home for granted

By Tyler Panlilio , Columnist

mug_paliliotyler_cutoutBeing away from your parents can be extremely liberating.

For the first time in 18 years, no one is going to remind you to do your laundry or tell you to be home by 11. Freshmen get to make their own decisions, and having that freedom is something that a lot of us haven’t experienced until we came to the University.

And for a lot of students — including myself — home is just a couple of hours away. A lot of us have the option to take a bus home for the weekend and come back Sunday evening like nothing even happened.

With fall break coming up in just two days, a lot of students can’t wait to relax for a bit. It’s our first real break from all the parties, schoolwork (for some, at least) and the repetitive dining hall food. I can’t think of a student who wouldn’t want some breathing room from the University; the thought of being home right now outweighs everything else.

But for those students whose families and friends are halfway across the world, it’s a bit different.

Erica Li, freshman in Media, explained the difficulties of not being able to see her family for months on end.

“I didn’t think that I’d miss my family that much when I left Taiwan,” she said. “But after being here for three months, it’s definitely more than I expected. I mean, the most I’ve ever been away from my family is only two weeks.”

Li also explained that it’s not just her family, either: “I miss the food, the weather and Taipei in general. I’m not used to how it is here.”

Being away from family isn’t the only thing that many international students struggle with at the University. When asked about the difficulties of making new friends as an international student, Li responded bluntly.

“It’s not that easy to make friends here at the University,” she said. “Besides a handful of friends at Illini Tower and my roommate, I don’t really talk to anyone. It can get pretty lonely, to be honest.”

Students from around the area should at least be aware that they have something a lot of other students don’t. It’s arguably easier for students like myself to make friends around here; campus feels a lot less intimidating coming from a high school where 60 of us ended up at the University. I can’t even say I feel homesick because home is only a three-hour drive away.

But even then, many of our parents want to see us more than anything; I remember seeing a lot of emotional parents on move-in day.

I’m not trying to say that you should go home every weekend just because you can. I’m also not trying to guilt trip students who like their independence into visiting their families. I’m just saying that some students don’t even have the option to.

So for those of you who are going home for fall break, cherish it. It shouldn’t solely be about stuffing your face on Thanksgiving or shopping for all those doorbuster deals on Black Friday.

Spend time with some of your hometown friends. Help your mom or dad with the turkey. Enjoy the everlasting comfort of sleeping in your own bed.

Before you know it, you’ll be at your 8 a.m. the Monday after break, wishing that you were anywhere but here.

Tyler is a freshman in Media. 

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