School’s out for summer: Readjusting to life at home

Aug. 11, 2011, 1:00 a.m.

The green numbers of my alarm clock read 7:00 a.m. Despite having been home for a couple of months, I still took several seconds to comprehend that the clock was telling the truth. What happened to rolling out of bed just in time for 11:00 classes?

After spending a year within the Stanford bubble, I decided to come back to my hometown for the summer. A paid internship and free housing at my parents’ house was something that a broke college student like me couldn’t exactly afford to turn down. But as I looked out my window and saw only the tiniest bit of sunlight, I began to regret the decision. At Stanford, I was only up at this ungodly hour at the conclusion of an all-nighter.

I finally got out of bed, and after jumping in the shower, I begrudgingly began to get dressed for the office. I opened my closet to my “business casual” pencil skirts, blouses, sweaters and slacks, though I wondered if the corporate world has ever looked up “casual” in the dictionary. My college wardrobe, a uniform of t-shirts, sweatpants and hoodies, still sits in my suitcases, untouched and wrinkled.

I sat in rush hour traffic for what feels like hours. I missed the sunny spring days, zooming around campus on Paris–what I named my little white bike–with her bell that is significantly less obnoxious than a car horn. Trying to avoid giving in to road rage, I fiddled with the radio. I heard a traffic report informing me of the traffic that I was sitting in, followed by commercials for products I have no intention of buying. This does not help my morning mood.

When I finally got to work, I settled in at my desk and started my computer. The ancient PC takes several minutes to boot up, and I wonder how I ever lived without my MacBook Pro. I started on my list of tasks for the day, pondering the single most important thing that I’ve learned at my internship this summer: the work world has little to do with what you learn in college. While I’m sure that this isn’t true for every career path, it is definitely true for my developing academic interests in feminist studies and English. I miss my Stanford classes where everything we learn is not about the bottom line.

After a semi-productive morning, I headed off to lunch. I finally felt at home again as I waited in the ridiculously long line at Subway. If I squinted my eyes really hard, I almost thought I was in Tresidder, trying to grab a bite to eat between classes. That is, until I got to the register.

“Wait, you don’t take Cardinal Dollars?” I want to ask, as I handed over my credit card.

My afternoon felt eerily similar to my morning, and at 5:00 p.m., I got on the elevator and headed back to the car, violating at least 15 rules of corporate etiquette on the way. Why does no one ever teach you what you really need to know, like how to make small talk on an awkward elevator ride with that guy from the cubicle next to yours, or why revolving doors are way harder to push than normal doors?

When I got home, I immediately changed into workout clothes, though I had no intention of going running. Despite sitting at a desk all day, all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and relax. Who knew that a full-time job was so exhausting?

I spent my early evening lounging around the house, enjoying free snacks from my parents’ kitchen and a real television. I had completely forgotten that when you watch shows live on TV, they have commercials. I even missed the obnoxious buffering of online video streaming as a chipper McDonald’s ad tries to convince me that it is a healthy dining establishment now. I texted my friends from high school, all of whom have moved, taken internships in significantly cooler cities or are on vacation. Hello, Thursday night–a far cry from “Thirsty Thursdays” at Sigma Chi’s penthouse.

I was about to head to bed at the embarrassingly early time of 9:00 p.m. when my dad suggested that we go see a movie together. Wondering whether my life had become so pathetic that my father was my sole social companion, I considered telling him “no,” but he suggested “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and I had never been one to turn down James Franco. So off we headed to the local movie theater, and I tried not to miss the Century Redwood City Theater too much. There wasn’t a Chipotle close enough to sneak in a burrito, and the stale, over-buttered movie popcorn left something to be desired.

But then the movie started. My dad and I sat and laughed and cried (okay, maybe that was just me) while Franco won our hearts for the millionth time, on this occasion alongside an ape named “Caesar.”

As I rode home with my dad and we discussed everything from the ethics of animal testing to Draco Malfoy’s American accent, I realized that even though I desperately miss the Farm and cannot wait for fall quarter, I came home for a reason. Because as wonderful as Stanford is, it’s missing one essential part of my life: my family.

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