I walked into my new college house at the beginning of this semester and was somewhat overwhelmed to begin this chapter of my life.

Move-in day was unbelievably stressful and incredibly exciting. With the help of my entire family, we recreated what used to be a party house for boys into a cozy living space.

The experience was unreal at first, but I was unsure why. It was not until the first time I referred to my new place as "home" that I realized the reality of what my family had helped me achieve.

My parents moved my bed — the same bed I was too scared to sleep in until middle school, the bed my mom literally pulled me out of every morning of high school, the bed that had been in one room my entire life — into an unknown house.

My sister painted the walls of my new room. The room that is no longer three steps away from hers. The room that she cannot walk into before school just to steal my clothes while I sleep. The room that will, hopefully, end up being her second home.

My grandparents moved their first grandchild into a house an hour away from theirs. The same grandchild that walked down the driveway almost every day to watch "Peter Pan" and "The Sound of Music" while growing up. This house is no longer a walk away.

The point I'm making is that my family was fully aware of what they were doing. They were moving me into my new life. The life where I gain three new family members.

One definition of family reads, "A social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for." Another says a family is "A group of people who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and frequently, live together."

I, unlike a lot of people, am fortunate to have both kinds of families. My house does not hold four different kinds of cereal supplied by my mom, but one box of Hershey's Cookies and Cream cereal that my roommate was so excited to buy for us. We have no milk, but it works dry, too. Instead of the pets I've had for years, we act as a park bench for the homeless Forest Avenue cat.

Mixing my family with my best friends has been the most fun I've ever had. I successfully made my mom's chicken salad, wired the television and Comcast box – with only a little help from my dad – and live by my grandmother's words, "When all else fails while cooking, add more butter."

Even though my family is no longer as close in distance as they once were, I did not leave them behind. There does not have to be a clear cut line between my family and my friends. My old life and my new one work together to make me the person I am.

Growing up is an adventure. Take what you've learned and use it towards the people that matter most. For me that is my family, old and new.

Cortney Roark is a junior in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at croark4@utk.edu.