Home is Where the Heart Is?


“Home” for a college student can be a tricky word. We move out of our parents’ house, and I know many can’t wait to embrace the new freedoms that can come with that. However, I’ve noticed that almost everyone I know still calls their parents’ house “home.” We go “home” for break, and talk about “back home.” Somewhere along the line, we’ll slip every now and then and call our new dorm/apartment “home” (okay these quotations are getting annoying, you get the idea) but it always feels weird. At least it did at first. At least for me. This past year -- my third at uni -- was the first time I truly felt my internal sense of home shift. Somewhere in my core I no longer identified home as my childhood home with my parents. Did this have to do with finally getting a big girl apartment -- kitchen, laundry room, and all? Did creating a new pseudo-family with roommates I adore do it? Maybe it’s because most of my currently utilized possessions were no longer being stored at my parents’. My closest friends from my hometown are also no longer based there…maybe that’s it?

And now, I’m in neither home! I’ve up and moved again, and this time half-way around the world. Except…that core feeling of home has not moved with me. It has stayed with my roommates. With my family. With my bed that my back aches for (mattresses in China are HARD). What is it that makes that connection? What creates that tie; what severs it? Location? Possessions? Time? A roof or bed? Or, as I strongly suspect, is it the people we love that we remain connected to regardless of physical proximity?

Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly happy where I am. I still get a sense of coming home when I return to my room after class or a long day. I’m just intrigued by this internal rooting I can feel. I keep coming up with more questions I have no answer for. What about modern nomads who never stay long in one place? Do they feel this? Why is “homesickness” so prevalent? Why does it intensely bother some people and barely affect others (like myself)?

Personally, I’m also curious to see how this sense will change as I approach graduation. All my college friends will also be scattered to the winds, and even my brother won’t be living at my parents’ anymore! It will be an interesting transitional time of my life. Someone gifted in psychology needs to do a study on our sense of where home is, regardless of our physical location. I can’t be the only one who is so curious about this!

I have my own theory of course, but it’s more spiritual than scientific.

I get the feeling (correct me if I’m wrong) this sense is universal to the human experience. And maybe, just maybe, (shout out to Justin Stringer, who has drilled that phrase in my brain) it is because we were all made for a home. Not just any home, but an eternal one. While we’re looking or waiting for that eternal home (whichever you identify with), we make one we’ve already found make-do. And when I think about how loved I feel in the homes I’ve already had…if the best is yet to come, my mind will be blown in the best possible way.

Fun Tidbits

  • There is a noticeable shortage of public trashcans. Seriously, what am I supposed to do with my gum wrapper??
  • High school here is INTENSE. They study like crazy in preparation for the college entrance exam which determines where they can go to continue their education. I was talking with my language partner about this the other day. She said she now has so much free time, and she doesn't know what to do with it because she never had time to do anything else but study. "We have more time for hobbies, but I do not know what my hobbies are."