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I did it -- I made it through my first year of college. Over the last two weeks of the semester there were sleepless nights spent at the library and hours spent cleaning up a year's dust accumulation in your cardboard box of a room, it all seemed worth it just to be able to go home.

Once the anticipation of finals was over I was overwhelmed by feelings of both sadness and excitement. As I looked around I saw nine months of my life taped up in brown boxes, and all my closest friends lugging suitcases out the door.

Yet somehow all I wanted to do was to slip into my ruby slippers, close my eyes, click my heels together three times and open them to see the palm trees and beaches of Boca Raton.

I nearly flew off the plane when it landed in Florida. I had never been so happy to see rows of pink shopping plazas and women adorned with gaudy jewelry and their hair dyed what we call "Boca yellow."

All right, so I didn't exactly do cartwheels, but it was a change from good old Philly. I was convinced that life here would be just as good as I rembered it.-- but I didn't rember that I'd been gone for nearly a year.

I started to realize something was different my first night back. I went to an informal high school youth group reunion. Girls were clad in diamond tennis bracelets with cell phones attached to their ears and cigarettes dangling out of their mouths. It suddenly hit me. Where did I fit in?

Most of these girls had gotten everything they ever wanted including that shiny new Jetta or Lexus when they were sixteen, and most of them had never even held a real job.

.I had just finished a semester where I had held two jobs and attended school full time. Their biggest concern was what color dress to get for their prom or what type of new beeper they should buy.

How could I still relate to these people who had played such a crucial role in my high school years? Do I just grab my mom's cell phone, put on some cubic zirconia and a pack of Marlboros?

Ok, so maybe it wasn't such a great first night.

I decided bright and early Monday morning to make my semi-annual excursion to my old high school. As I strode into the office to receive my oh-so-fashionable visitor pass I was told my presence was a threat to this now "closed" campus. After my protests failed, I snuck up the fire escape the the journalism room.

The younger students who had once been my editorial staff signed yearbooks and glowed over their recent newspaper awards as I looked on, feeling like an outsider in my old classroom. The life I had treasured a year ago was frozen in time -- actually more like erased. I noticed they had covered up my old newspaper picture with a stupid poster.

Ah, the memories.

I had already struck out twice, so I turned to my friends for help. I opened up my old telephone book to see who I could call first.

Let's see -- she's in Boston, she's in California, he's leaving tomorrow, she works all day -- yeah, what an exciting summer.

All my friends were nowhere to be found. As absolute boredom sank in the phone rang. It was one of my best friends from Penn, calling me from South Philly. After spending the next hour on the phone it occurred to me that my life in Florida could never replace the home I had since built for myself at Penn.

An entire year away from home had gone by and I had come to rely on myself to pay bills, go food shopping, and take myself to the doctor. I lived with the same people day in and day out for nine months and had come to turn to them for help and guidance.

The people I could relate to were no longer the girls I had ventured to TGI Fridays with every Wednesday night for almost four years.

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