Home from College? Take Back Your Bedroom!

This summer, you might be heading home to the 'rents. You're planning on moving back into your old bedroom for a two or three month stay, but for the first few days, you might feel like a guest... especially if your parents or siblings have taken over your room. The Real College Guide dishes on how you can take back your space for the summer.

After living in a cramped dorm room, coming home to your own bedroom can be a relief. But what happens if you open your bedroom door…to find that your old space is nothing like you left it?

When Syracuse University rising senior Aleecia Kaloustian got home from college, she found her room had become an art studio: “I walked in, and it was covered with drop cloths with my mom’s easels set up all over … I didn’t know where to sleep or put my stuff!” Getting home from college and finding you no longer have a bedroom is a stressful way to start your break, but there are ways to cope:

1. Don’t go into freak-out mode.
Panicking will only make things worse, so relax and assess the situation. “Keep in mind, the initial reaction getting home from college is not going to be the way things feel all summer,” says Marjorie Savage, Parent Program Director at the University of Minnesota and author of You’re on Your Own (But I’m Here If You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years.

“When you first get home, you might be surprised at changes that contrast with how you remembered family life. This disappointment is complicated by the fact that you’ve just gone through finals, packing and leaving your college friends. Try to separate the leaving-school emotions from emotions about being back home.”

Once you’ve gotten over the initial shock, talk to your parents -- calmly.
While Kaloustian was upset that her room was no longer hers, after she expressed her feelings to her mom, the situation was fixed: “She felt bad, so she moved everything quickly and doesn’t paint in my room anymore.”

2. Stake out another space.
Says Savage: “I typically tell parents, ‘Don’t change your student’s room until they get their first apartment.’ They still need permanent space in their lives, especially if they’re home for the entire summer. Having said that, I was one of those parents who sent her kids to college and then moved across the state -- to a house too small to accommodate bedrooms for all -- but I did help them find their own space. One took over a spare room; the other carved out a private space in the basement.”

Grace Brennan, rising junior at Syracuse, came home during freshman year to find her house in disarray as her parents were in the process of moving. Her sister had taken some things out of her room, and her mom had invaded her space: “Even though I still had my own room, it didn’t feel like my room anymore. All my pictures and decorative stuff were gone, and my sister took my full-sized bed so I had a twin. And my mom used my computer and desk all the time, so it wasn’t my own space.”

During spring break this year, the family moved to a new home, where Brennan has to share a room with her sister. “Feeling like there wasn’t a place I could go and be comfortable and not worry about being bothered by a younger sister or brother or mom was annoying,” she says. “But there is a loft area that is sort of part of my sister’s room. I just made that my own room.”

3. Get outta the house!
“Find things to do outside your room or outside the house,” advises Savage. “Don’t simply sit in front of your computer surfing the Net or playing video games.”

Brennan hangs out in her backyard during the summer: “I spend a lot of time on my deck or lawn relaxing and don’t need to be in my room. Going home feels more like a vacation now as opposed to going to school feeling like time away. Realizing that made it easier for me to accept that my room isn’t really mine anymore.”

4. Take it like an adult.
“Everyone in the family has made changes based on the student being gone,” explains Savage. “Students need to understand that just as they have changed since leaving for college, the rest of the family has changed as well. The student’s return, while generally a pleasant homecoming experience, actually juts into the parents’ and siblings’ comfort zones too.

“It’s a good bet that the younger sister who suddenly has a roommate is feeling cramped, and the parent who happily escaped into that art studio is probably feeling some loss of an important space. The returning student doesn’t have to feel guilty about those reactions, but it’s important to know it’s not ‘all about me.’ Your family did not intentionally set up the household in a new way to cause you discomfort. They’ve made adjustments based on changes that came naturally with your transition to college. Understanding that can be the basis for a calm discussion about how to meet the needs of all family members.”

Republished with permission from The Real College Guide | Image: Source

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