Going to college can completely change the idea of “home.” While some students move only a few minutes away, others move from across the country or even across the globe. It can be hard to adapt and make the cinder block walls of our dorms feel like anything close to home. Adapting is even more difficult for current students, most of whom spent a lot of the pandemic not just living at home, but stuck in their house. I spent hours choosing the perfect comforter, throw pillows, posters, and even storage bins in an attempt to make my new space my own. I love my dorm — well, as much as someone can love a dorm — so I guess my efforts weren’t entirely in vain, but a room alone is not enough to acclimate an incoming student to their new environment.

As a first-year student, I knew UR wasn’t going to feel like home right away. But the real shock came when I returned to my hometown for Thanksgiving break, only to find that it didn’t feel like home, either. My family was there, my dog was there, my high school friends were there, and my room was there, yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t quite belong anymore. Everything felt the same, except for me. I was suspended in limbo — neither Rochester nor my hometown was truly “home.”

I expected to feel better once returning to campus. However, as excited as I was to reunite with my college friends, I didn’t feel like I had gone back “home.” I began to wonder how I had ended up feeling so out of place.

Upon reflection, I realized that I wasn’t giving either place enough credit for the moments where I did feel at home. Whether it was petting my dog, watching Barbie movies with my sister, or joking around with my college friends, it became clear to me that to consider something a “home,” who you’re with is more important than where you are.

I never thought I’d live my life by the sayings on HomeGoods decor, but I have to agree that “home is where the heart is.” I feel more at home with the people I love than I ever will by simply being in a specific place.

Home can be fluid, and over the coming years, I’m sure Rochester will begin to feel more homey. But for now, I will dwell on the moments in which I feel loved, rather than those in which I feel out of place. Home is with my friends, my sister, my dog, my parents. So no matter where I go, home can follow.

Tagged: home

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