When I left school in December, it felt like I had a lifetime before I would be leaving for Germany in February. And to be honest, I was dreading the months I had coming up at home. I was envious of my friends who only had a couple of short weeks until they would be departing on their world adventures. I didn’t like the idea of leaving the business of Washington, DC to come sit in my boring hometown with nothing to do.
I live in a small upstate New York town with people I’ve known since I was young and dairy farms in every direction you drive. As soon as ninth grade hit, my focus because getting out. Hooked from visiting family and seeing Broadway shows in New York City, I knew that when college time came, I wanted to experience the hustle and bustle of a bigger place. I packed my bags and fell in love with DC.
This is in no way to say that I didn’t appreciate the people in my hometown. They’re friendly and the shops are quaint. But I felt that I, big-city girl, had outgrown the hills of upstate New York and was ready to take on the role of world traveler extraordinaire. So, when my parents came to get me on a rainy DC December day, I grumbled and hunkered down for what I thought would feel like an endless time in my tiny community.
I was wrong.
It was my mother that reminded how fortunate I was to have a two-month break to spend with family and friends at home. I shrugged her off before realizing, begrudgingly, that she was correct (as she usually is). During the holidays, we exchanged Christmas cookies with neighbors and sang carols with the local church. I caught up with people I hadn’t bothered to reach out to in a long time and listened to their stories of whose granddaughter had just graduated college and whose niece had just had her new baby.
Being home this past month has served as a valuable break for me and an opportunity to reassess and re-appreciate where I’m from. I realize I often get too focused on moving forward, the same attitude I had about wanting to go straight from DC to Germany. This break has allowed me to slow down a bit and reconnect with people I had once judged for never leaving upstate New York. It’s easy to forget that these people have interesting stories to tell, too, and are hard-working, down-to-earth people.
This is a lesson that I am going to take to Europe with me. I am excited to not only see the world-famous cities like Paris and Berlin, but I’m also looking forward to see what the smaller, lesser-known places have to offer. I have been reminded that these types of towns are where some of the kindest people come from. They offer a way to see the true culture of a country. My little hometown has helped me grow in more ways than I realize and I can’t wait for another month here before taking off on my European adventure.
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<p>My name is Sarah and I am studying environmental studies and journalism. Although born and raised in upstate New York, I now go to college in Washington, DC. My perfect day involves eating lots of good food and getting lost on a hike.</p>