Home is a deeply rooted word; it’s a word that must grow from somewhere ancient and buried. For many Freshers’, going to university also means leaving home for the first time, and it’s common for students to feel homesick and isolated in a new city.
Home is both where you come from and where you’re living – simultaneously a place where you are and a place where you aren’t. What I learnt during my first year of university is that home is something you carry wherever you go.
“Conversations about hometowns are easy guidelines to see how people differ, and Freshers’ week will be full of them”
Until friends from the far reaches of London and Leeds pointed it out to me, it had never sincerely occurred to me that I came from a small place. Conversations about hometowns are easy guidelines to see how people differ, and Freshers’ week will be full of them. Do you come from a city or a town, in the north or the south? The exchange of regional slang, school stories, and comparisons of how shit your respective hometowns can be, shows everything to be relative. For once, your home is different and maybe even special (to you at least).
“Home is the immediate comparison, and the first thing you’ll pine for when the world feels unfamiliar”
Home, if it’s been consistent, may be all you’ve really known; home is woven into your perceptions. Home provides the original lens with which everything is viewed. Home is the immediate comparison, and the first thing you’ll pine for when the world feels unfamiliar. There are times I call my parents with nothing to say, simply because there’s a comfort in their voices that I know I won’t find elsewhere.
My hometown feels smaller to me now. The things I associate with it have been distilled to pleasing simplicity in my absence. When I’m feeling generous, I think of home as somewhere almost pastoral – the small beauty of a coastal town is something that I had maybe never noticed. I think of the salt that hangs in the mornings, brought in by the tide and palpable as soon as you’ve left the house. There’s washed out bell heather hidden between the grass of the sand dunes, and nights are made bracing by seashore wind.
But to leave home inevitably means finding a new one. Even after a year at university, my parents note when I speak of Nottingham as home. Never to be my hometown, Nottingham is rather a home I’ve discovered through experience.
“The lens of home is thankfully widened by each gained experience, however small they may seem”
Being at university likely means living without family for the first time. It allows your own routines, however ill planned or questionable they might be, to form independently of adult supervision. Time is at your disposal alone. The lens of home is thankfully widened by each gained experience, however small they may seem: Nottingham has become the city of late walks home, drunk selfies taken at strange, affectionate angles, and staying up too late simply for the sake of it. Although the room I returned to after lectures became home at first just for ease of conversation, it came to be a new sort of home through the private independence it allowed me.
Home, wherever that may be, is the original myth from which we are all made. There is something about home that must be ground into our very being, passed along to us in the same way that we inherit family traits. The longer I’m away from home, the more I think of home as something that moves along with me and exists independently of geographical constraints; home is found in voices on trains, on warm, full plates of food, on old television programmes and songs that will always be heard in our kitchen at Christmas.
I don’t miss home at university. Home is ever present, however far you stray from it.
If you are feeling homesick or are worried about your move to university be sure to check out the University of Nottingham’s student services in Portland Building or visit their website.
Featured Image courtesy of ‘Barry Lewis’ via Flickr. Image licence found here.