To say things haven’t gone according to plan over the past year would be the biggest understatement of all time, but things haven’t really gone the way I planned them for some time now.
I’m a sophomore, and I’m spending my year abroad at home, in Whitewright, Texas, but I’ve still had what I would consider a life-changing experience, just like a normal Pepperdine abroad experience.
This past year or so at home has been a time of unprecedented growth, as I’ve reconnected to my home, my family, my local friends and, most importantly, myself.
I got to be home for two Bluebonnet seasons, three new Taylor Swift albums and, my personal favorite, my little sister’s 16th birthday. Normally I wouldn’t be home for her birthday, so I felt so lucky to get to go with her to her driver’s license test and celebrate that milestone with her.
I got to celebrate my 20th birthday with some cookies and cream Blue Bell ice cream (the superior flavor and brand), and I’ve been on more late-night Whataburger runs than I can count (the superior burger chain).
There have been some downsides, of course, to this time at home. In February, there was a massive snowstorm that devastated the entire state. My family and I weren’t able to get flights out to Cancun like some people, so we had to sit in our house and freeze until we were able to go to my grandparents’ home where they had power.
Even that, though, became somewhat of a funny memory for my family to look back on, as my mom likes to recount the worst part wasn’t having no power or water, but rather being so bored we actually started coloring “like a bunch of kindergarteners,” as she puts it.
Being away from my Pepperdine friends forced me to reach out to old high school friends I hadn’t talked to in a while, something I’m now so grateful for.
Now that we’ve all been vaccinated, I spend almost all of my free time with my home friends, and we’ve become closer than we ever were as kids. I’m even planning a road trip out to Los Angeles next month with one of them.
I think this all feels like good news to me because I never expected to love my home this much. I expected to resent having to be here for so long, but now, the thought of leaving for Malibu again makes me sort of sad.
I’ll have to celebrate things without my family, be intentional about maintaining the bonds I’ve reformed with my home friends and remember how to pretend I like the fries at In-N-Out, but I know I’m ready to go back to normal campus life in Malibu. The good news is I’ll just go back with a new appreciation for the place and the people I’ll always come home to.
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Contact Addison Whiten via Twitter: @addisonwhiten or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org