I am Bradley’s only student from Las Vegas, Nevada, at least that I know of. A lot of people are shocked when I tell them this because of how different it is from Peoria.
Everyone wondered how I got here, and the answer varies. They ask if I like the snow, the corn, the wildlife, the people, Bradley, the corn some more, and everything else that makes Peoria itself.
Then I get the question: “Don’t you miss your family?”
When I hear this, I almost feel guilty. Not because I don’t miss them, but I just can’t when I’m dealing with exams, classes, volunteering, working and having a tiny chance of a social life. But there’s always something deeper inside of me that I’ve yet to express.
Instead, I put on a brave face and say, “I’ve always been independent.” “I’ve been even farther from them.” “Well, I don’t plan on moving back home after college … unless my loans say otherwise.”
My family isn’t constantly on my mind because I know I’m going back.
However, I grew up in a very loving, Latino household, meaning I hold them so much closer to my heart than almost anything else. When I get asked that question, I almost spiral into these bitter-sweet thoughts.
Usually, it’s the little things that get me.
Just a few weeks ago, after I was done reading to a student while she drew flowers on a piece of paper, she gifted her drawing to me. This was something my youngest cousin would do as her only way to say goodbye to me. It instantly went on my Snapchat for my family to see after I stopped myself from crying.
It’s almost too quiet around me now that my cousins aren’t barging into my room and telling me about the latest celebrity or school drama or playing music while I try to do homework. Even if my essay got done late, at least I knew the lyrics to the newest radio hit.
I loved when all of my family came over on the weekends when my grandpa cooked big meals. Then we’d all talk and joke around. Sometimes it was about other things, sometimes about ourselves. It was even better when we celebrated a birthday, because we had cake and my uncle played music for everyone. Now, it’s phone calls and photos from here on.
It makes me miss everyone so much, and I feel like I betrayed them.
Would it have been worth it though? I try to think it through as logically as I can but I just can’t. Now, I’m looking for the next flight back home. I get moments of dread when I wonder if I should have gone to one of the local universities.
At least I would know everyone and everything around me. I wouldn’t have put so much pressure on my family with tuition and travel costs. Things could have been much more simple if I stayed, even if this is what I wanted.
I’m alone with these thoughts and I can’t seem to stop. Then I get the notification on my phone.
It always seems to be on time, that I get a call or text from my family that they tell me how proud they are that I’m pursuing a higher education, how they’re impressed by what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve learned so far and how my day is going and they offer me any advice they can give.
Most importantly, they say, “I love you,” especially when I need it the most.
So, yes, I do miss my family. I’m even homesick, and there’s times where I want nothing more but to be home. My family knows me best and see that I’m improving in the ways that I wanted to. They keep pushing me forward even with the distance between us.
While I might not say it out loud to people I meet here, my family knows and I know that I miss them.
I’m sure I’m not alone on this issue, so if anyone feels like they need to go back home, just remind yourself why you’re here and reach out to someone.