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The GW Hatchet


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The GW Hatchet

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Laura Castro Lindarte: Commuter students should seek opportunities for independence

Laura Castro Lindarte, a sophomore double majoring in journalism and political science, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

Living away from your parents for the first time can be unsettling. Most GW students went through this odd transition during freshman year, but I’m first experiencing it this summer for the first time because I’m a commuter student at GW. Being in Colombia alone for two months is the closest experience I’ve had to moving away from home for college.

Being away from home these two months was a confusing experience for a lot of reasons. But it was an experience that I think all commuter students should have because it forces them to become more independent. I have learned skills from living separate from my parents for two months that I could not have learned under my parents’ roof.

Being a commuter student at GW has given me one fewer worry than many GW students: budgeting money. For the first time, I’m learning to consider how I spend my money because I only have a limited amount of money that I was given for my trip. It might sound like a small thing, but figuring out how to do this in a foreign country is a lot harder than it would have been if I was learning how to be independent in the company of thousands of college classmates.

Also, I’ve had to function without constant physical and emotional support of my parents. Even though I talk to them via text or over the phone, I’ve felt left out of their lives and have wanted them to have a more active role in my life in Colombia. I have quickly learned that talking to someone on the phone is not the same as talking to someone in person.  

As an only child, I am extremely close to my parents. I tell them everything, because they were my main companions for 19 years. Because of these two months without them, I have learned just how much I enjoy their company. I have learned to replace the support I usually get from them by talking more with other members of my family that are here with me like my cousins or the aunt that I am staying with. I have also learned to be more patient and figure things out on my own since I can’t have their input all the time.

But being away from my parents also has given me the tools to be more independent. I envy that most GW students – and college students who live on campuses across the U.S. – have the freedom to live on their own. And having that sort of freedom is something I hadn’t really ever imagined.

These past two months, I was able to go out with friends without feeling like I had to introduce every single person to my parents. The few times that I went places with my cousins or friends I felt like I could spend money without feeling too guilty because it was my own money that I was spending. Of course, I still had to maintain a budget, but I didn’t have to tell my parents exactly what I spent money on.

I have always admired college students who leave their homes at 18-years-old and venture off on their own. Sometimes I wonder if it’s wrong to be as attached to my parents as I am now. This summer may have given me two months of a semi-normal college experience, but there’s a lot more out in the world that I’ll never experience alone until I graduate college.

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