It’s hard to define home as a college student.
“I’m going home for the weekend,” means going back to the place my family lives, where I grew up, went to high school, and all that pre-college stuff.
“I’ll see you at home,” means my roommate is leaving the dining hall to go to class, but I’ll see her in our room later.
For 9 months of the year, home is a dingy college town, but there’s still a place waiting for me a few hundred miles away where I spent the first 18 years of my life. In reality, home isn’t my dorm room and it isn’t the house I grew up in. It isn’t one place with one address that I can put into a GPS. It’s made of too many places to count, because it isn’t the place that makes somewhere feel like home, it’s the people.
Home is the Chapter Room, where I spend every Sunday night surrounded by my best friends. Home is the marketplace booths I’ve sat in for hours, laughing until my stomach ached. Home is the couch in my apartment living room that’s meant for 4 people, but somehow always fits closer to 15. Home is the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I’m standing in the kitchen cooking dinner and all my roommates get home from class with stories and jokes from their day. Home is curling up in my lumpy apartment bed with a book and a candle, or getting a super sweet text from a friend who knows I’m having a bad day. Home is hugging your best friend after being apart for months.
But not all of my home is here with me at college.
200 miles away, so much of my home is patiently waiting for me to return in May, where home is the pizza place I always go to for my first meal back. It’s the couch I frequently nap on at my best friend’s house, where we eat fruit-snacks and I complain about his tv show selections. Home is lying in bed with my cats, listening to them purr like motors. Home is going to work and getting a smile and a hug from every single coworker. Home is the coffee place that still knows my name and order, even when I’ve been gone for months, and it’s the giant hill my high school sits on that has a killer view of the sunrise. It’s the basketball court in the gym where I used to spend more hours than I could count, and the dance studio across the street where I made my first friends and learned how to hop, shuffle, and step. It’s the glass table in my friend’s backyard we could sit at for hours, drinking twisted tea, and laughing our problems away.
If you look up the word home, you’ll get this.
- the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
But such a simple definition doesn’t come close to explaining the meaning of home to a college student. It doesn’t encompass the glowing feeling of being home, whether that be surrounded by friends, doing something I love, or just completely content with life in that moment.
Home is what you make it and it’s what makes you, which no dictionary definition could ever really get right.