The familiar dread and persistence of those back to school commercials and sale advertisements faded last year, the summer before I started my freshman year of university. Suddenly, as August began to welcome the relief of September, a concoction of excitement and nervousness began to filter all other emotions, as I looked forward to starting a new chapter of my life. I would not be going back to my high school, with its familiar routine and memorized halls. I had chosen to pack up and move from my island city on the west coast and try my luck in the largest city in Canada: Toronto.
Back to school then seemed like a shiny, new, special time filled with endless opportunities to learn, grow and meet new people. The sadness of leaving my family, friends and home had been dulled by the prospect of seeing a new city.
However, this summer, as I returned home to reconnect with old friends and catch up on sleep from finals, the thought of September seemed to be evoking a different range of emotions.
This summer’s theme seemed to be about reflecting on the past year. While I exchanged news and stories with high school friends about their experiences in their year after school, each conversation describing my year seemed to help me process and reflect on everything that I had learned. I found that I did not want to continue in my intended program, and instead talked about the classes which I really enjoyed. The people that I met during school were so unique and interesting to me, that I unknowingly improved my social skills just by wanting to talk to more people.
When I started thinking about going back to school, it was as if a fog had been lifted. I could see the things that I would miss about my home island, and I thought about the things that I was looking forward to seeing again back in Toronto. Instead of a pure feeling of excitement, I felt a balanced sense of calm and acceptance. I accepted that I would miss my family and friends greatly, but I knew from my freshman year that I would talk to them often and that sometimes, distance really does help relationships. I accepted that I would be on my own again in a big city, but I knew from being faced with challenges last year that I had a good support network of friends to help me.
While going back to school this year might not be the happiest time for everyone, I implore everyone to try and think of things that they are excited for in addition to things that they are dreading. I feel bittersweet about going back to school because I have been lucky enough to have found two places and two sets of people where my heart feels at home.
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