Finding home away from home
Living on your college campus is weird. Last semester, I had to fill out a form that asked for my home address and had a mini crisis when I realized that I spend more time at school than I do at home. Maybe it’s because I’m only a freshman, or maybe it’s because I’m sort-of-but-not-exactly an international student (hailing from the U.S. territory of Guam), but sometimes I just have to stop and think, “Huh. I live here now. Without my family. Weird.”
I think the reason I’m so rattled when I think about it is because when I’m not thinking about it, living here is so… easy. Walking through campus, I feel a comfortable sense of belonging. I fit here. At the beginning of last semester, that was not the case. I was acutely aware of the fact that I was not at home, I was living with strangers and I had no clue where anything was. The beginning of this semester could not feel more different.
So I went back home for Christmas break. It might not seem like that big a deal, but when your family lives 8,000 miles away on a tiny island in the Western Pacific Ocean, it becomes something special. That month felt more like a millisecond. After saying goodbye to my parents in the airport, I was so distraught that I didn’t notice I was at the wrong gate and almost hopped on a plane to Seoul.
When my plane (the correct one, thankfully) landed in Newark Airport, I opened a text from my roommate and it was like a switch flipped. It wasn’t like August at all, when I was walking into the great unknown, unsure of what college had in store for me. Once I was back on campus, I was going to see my friends again. We had a whole new semester of movie nights, impromptu dance parties and late-night shenanigans. Instead of wallowing in sadness over leaving my island, I started looking forward to tackle-hugging all my school friends.
The first night back, while my roommate and I unpacked, I realized that I breathed the same sigh of relief and contentment walking in my dorm room as I did pulling into my driveway back home. I plopped down on my bed and kicked up my feet like I was home. Assumption doesn’t just feel like home, it is my home now. And that rattles me, because I never thought I’d feel this way anywhere but Guam.
Maybe I’ll get used to it by the time I graduate, or maybe I’ll always find it weird how I don’t feel weird about living here. All I know is I’m going to relish the fact I have three and a half more years calling this campus home.
Hannah White, a first-year, studies English. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.