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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

The Red Shoes

Kyle Ott

(1/2012) "Thereís no place like home, thereís no place like home." Even if you havenít seen the classic movie based off Frank L. Baumís book, this quote should be familiar to you and it should carry meaning. That one simple line cut past all the fantasy of Dorothyís epic adventure and got right to the underlying theme that lurked just beyond the hordes of munchkins and shining Emerald City. The idea that Baum was trying to get across and the theme that Dorothyís memorable quote extols is that as no matter how fantastic your life is, home will always matter most.

But what is home? I guess for our red shoed heroine, home was returning to her normal, everyday existence on a dusty Kansas farm, but for each person home is different. In my last article, I considered the nature of family and what it was that bound people together into a single inseparable unit. But now, writing an article in my house for the first time this year, I want to consider what home is especially to the college freshman who is spending his/her first long break away from school. I donít believe that home is simply four walls that we eat, sleep, and live in. We have that in school at our residence halls. No, I think that the idea of home is deeply rooted in what we most hold dear, and the family that we share our lives with. For example: the week leading up to Christmas break was dominated by two points of discussion: finals and home. Barring the first discussion topic, I learned a lot from the stories my friends told of what they were looking forward to when they got back home from school. Some of my friends were excited to spend time with girlfriends or boyfriends that went to different schools. Still others were excited to spend time with parents, grandparents, siblings, or cousins. And still others just wanted to sleep in until twelve in the afternoon, able to rest without a care in the world. From my own perspective, I was just looking forward to a break from the pressures of college life: I had no emails to check every day or essays to write at night. More than that, I was looking forward to the people that I had left behind when I went to school. My family is my rock, my support, and my sounding board for life. My little brother is my best friend in the entire world, my father is the role model that surpasses all others, and my mom has always been my guide keeping me on the right path. Itís the time I spend with these people, and the moments I share with them that make me truly appreciate being home. Itís not the fact that I can sleep in my own bed, or watch TV again, or have an amazing assortment of home cooked goodies to eat at my leisure. Home means being with the people that I love and who love me unconditionally, and I suspect that for many students at Mount St. Maryís thatís really what this break is about.

With that in mind, I submit to you dear reader that home is not so much a place as it is a state of mind. When you are home, you are truly yourself, fully at peace, and able to recuperate from the pressures of the everyday world. College is a stressful time, a period of four years where everything in your life is in a state of constant flux. Who you hang out with is always changing, and conflicting class schedules, work, and any number of things can change your social group without warning. The responsibility of having to do well in classes (some of which you may or may not be good at) also takes its toll and can wear down the strongest student. Then of course thereís the lack of sleep (something we all know about) that seems to go hand in hand with almost every college kids weekly routine. Even the classes themselves change. Many of us are used to our existing schedules, but when we return in January weíll have to adapt to a whole new system, and the challenges it brings. But being home gives us a chance to breathe. This month away from college allows us to recover our strength and our will in the face of the oncoming semester. But for now I think Iíll remember the friends Iíll see again, and forget the challenges that I (and so many other college kids) will face in the coming semester. For now, itís enough to know that Iím with the people that complete me, in the one place that will never change. Weíve got one month until we see each other again, and I hope you will all make the most of it. Until then Iíll be here at home, a writing book on my desk, right next to a pair of glittering red shoes. After all, there really is no place like home. Iím Kyle Ott, wonít you sit and read for a while?

Read other articles by Kyle Ott