Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

Back to the ‘Burbs: The 5 Places You’ll Go When You’re Home on Break

sometimes, there’s nothing better than a quick visit back home.

It’s getting close to the holidays, and I’ll admit, I’m starting to feel a bit nostalgic. If I were in the States right now, I’d be gearing up for Thanksgiving break, getting excited to see friends and family, and preparing to eat lots of amazing food. After spending the past five months away from home, it would be nice to spend a couple of days relaxing in the small town where I grew up…

And then I’d want to get right back to the city.

In honor of the holidays and all of you about to make the journey back home, here are the five places you need to visit when you’re back in the suburbs:

1. The 24-Hour Diner

In high school, you more or less came here every weekend. Long before the days of college dorms, where you could gather in your friends’ rooms at any hour of the night, there were only so many places you could go after the stroke of midnight. This was the no-brainer choice for late night pancakes, French fries, and milkshakes – a perfectly acceptable combination only between the hours of 2 and 5 am. You’ve been here countless times, yet never during the daylight – in fact, you’re not even sure if it’s open during normal business hours. Either way, this will be your first stop and salvation when you head back home and remember that back in the suburbs, the rest of world goes to sleep by 10 pm.

2. The Neighborhood Watering Hole

Every town has one: some coffee shop or neighborhood bagel place where you’re guaranteed to see everyone you’ve ever known, from your middle school English teacher to that kid you used to babysit. Sometimes, you’re just not in the mood to make small talk with old acquaintances you haven’t spoken with since prom, yet, you’ll still drag yourself to this spot because whatever it is that they’re known for making is so good that you just can’t stand the thought of being home without stopping by. Get ready for lots of questions about your studies and whether or not you’ve finally figured out what you want to do with the rest of your life.

3. The Trendy Restaurant

You’ve been away for a few months and there’s a new spot everyone’s talking about. Sure, it’s a little expensive and a glass of wine costs more than what you’d spend on a whole bottle back at school, but you’ve been living on ramen and free samples at Trader Joe’s and you deserve a treat. You and your friends get dressed to the nines, even though your after-dinner plans consist of curling up on one of their couches and re-watching an entire season of Breaking Bad. At least leftover sushi makes for a better snack than popcorn.

And yes, I realize a lot of these revolve around food.

4. The Long Car Ride

This isn’t so much a place as something you’ll do, but it needed to make the list. Taking long, late-night car rides to no particular destination is a favorite pastime unique to those who grew up in a suburb. After all, when you have limited sources of entertainment, you learn to make your own. So, when you’ve been home for one too many days and you’re itching to get back to school, get in the car with a friend, turn on the same radio station that got you through your younger years, and get lost in the streets you once knew by heart.

Riding around the suburbs in my friend's car image

Back in the suburbs? Back in the car.

5. The Local Bars

Going out to your hometown bars after being away at college is something of a rite of passage. It’s the first time you can (legally) get in, and that your parents can’t say anything if/when you tell them where you’re going. In my town, the bars are located just a block away from the main library. Sure, there’s something a little weird about going bar hopping in the same place where I attended pre-school story time, but who am I to judge my town’s fine municipal planning?

Enjoy your visit back home! Hopefully, it’ll be just long enough for you to appreciate the town where you grew up – and to remember why you can’t wait to get back to school.

Sarah Bennett

Muhlenberg College | 9 stories

Sarah Bennett graduated from Muhlenberg College in May with a double major in English and media and communications. She spent her fall semester studying abroad in London, making her inner English major and Shakespeare nerd pretty pleased - or as her British roommates said, chuffed to bits. She loves writing, good books, theater, and travel.

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