Heimat: A German Word for a UConn Feeling

Strangely enough, it was in a German class that I merely enrolled in to fulfill a requirement, that I was granted a sense of clarity.

Heimat (German noun): home, a feeling of belonging on a larger scale

I feel that here, at the University of Connecticut. I feel that sense of home that four walls of a house cannot encapsulate. It’s the feeling of being surrounded by thousands of strangers, but not feeling lonely. It’s the sound of deep sighs in unison in lecture halls when a class hears the average of the last bio exam. It’s stumbling into your dorm at 2 a.m. at the same time as the boys upstairs. It’s the taste of bland dining hall food that doesn’t prevent you from sitting with your friends for hours after finishing the meal. It’s the simple feeling of belonging in this vast sea of people, each going about their separate, distant lives.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not here to say that college is a euphoric place where pain can no longer touch you. To be quite honest, sometimes it feels like the exact opposite. Heimat is the calming sense that we are not alone in this struggle. We may not have all been destined to be in this one place at the same time, but nevertheless we are connected. Some of us more than others. I feel Heimat here. Somehow we just have the insight to all the awful and glorious things that one another is experiencing. The young love. The heartbreak. The self-discovery. The self-confusion. The tears of joy. The tears of sorrow. The feeling of being lost and found all in one.

I am already nostalgic about the nights I cannot remember and the nights I will never forget. I'm already nostalgic because one day we won’t be living down the hall from our best friends. One day we won’t be cramming into the student section of a basketball game. We won’t have dozens of group texts.

Not every moment will be nostalgia-worthy. You will feel defeated more times than you can count. The stress is inevitably constant. There’s a reason so many of us joke about getting hit by cars to pay for tuition. Your anxieties begin to have their own anxieties. But looking over in the library to another sleep-deprived, dreary-eyed, coffee-medicated student eases some of this impending doom. It’s a reminder that we do belong here, struggling among one another.

I feel solidarity in the fear. Can I make it through finals week? Do I even like my major? What am I doing with my life? I feel Heimat in these fears. No one understands these fears more than each other. They resonate deep within us all as we try to figure out who we want to be. Misery loves company, but so does passion, and joy, and hope.

I feel solidarity in the hope. With this sense of belonging comes the sense of opportunity. We can wake up each day, and now more than ever, decide to change. We can decide to change our hair, our major, our lives. We have so much to looking ahead of us, as unfamiliar as it may be. The best is truly yet to come. We are all connected by the overflow of these emotions running through our veins.

Somehow, we are all intertwined through this one school. We may not ever cross paths, yet I empathize with what you’re feeling. We have the mutual understanding of the young love, the heartbreaks, the self-discoveries, the self-confusion, the tears of joy, and the tears of sorrow. I find peace in being lost and found with all of these people living their distant and extraordinary lives. I find peace in the Heimat here.


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