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Fall break generally brings feelings of joy and excitement at the prospect of flying home to reunite with family on the other side of the country. For me, fall break meant driving a town and a half over. My hometown, East Windsor, is only 20 minutes away from campus.

I was excited for break and made a list of things I was looking forward to, but a few days in, I realized that I honestly didn’t have much to keep me occupied. Most of my friends were in school since their fall breaks did not match up with mine, and my parents were at work for most of the day. Throughout high school, I would hang out in Princeton with friends, so a few of us went back to our old ways. I found myself back on Nassau less than 24 hours after I had left, grabbing brunch and walking around. Another day, I went to Terhune Orchards with another friend, and then, unsurprisingly, ended up on campus again. It was like an invisible magnet kept pulling me back toward campus — to my new life, and away from my old.

I even drove back here to use the gym. When I ran into a friend in the Forbes parking lot, who had come for the same reason, I realized that I wasn’t alone.

Some of my friends in Forbes who were on campus for break shared the same feelings of boredom and loneliness, so we met up at my house to carve pumpkins and have dinner.

I also realized that my family had adopted a new dynamic while I was gone. I couldn’t connect to my home’s Wi-Fi for the first few days. Things were in different places, and my favorite snacks weren’t there. My parents and brother had their own inside jokes, too.

It wasn’t until I went home that I realized how independent I had grown since coming here. I wasn’t used to waiting for people, having my parents tell me not to stay out too late, and needing to let them know where I was at all times. I also learned how much I had settled into life on campus. One day, as I was heading to Princeton to meet more friends, I called to my parents, “I’m going home!” before leaving my house and driving to Princeton for the seventh time that break.

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