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Most college students are saying goodbye to their temporary apartments and dorms and heading home for the holidays. When we talk about home, what is a home exactly? Is it a place? Is it the people? Is it the idea of familiarity we yearn for when we’ve been away for too long?   

Home means something a little different for everyone. For some, home is a place of warmth and where they can get away from some of the more stressful parts of life. For others, home is wherever the most important people in your life gather. 

hot cocoa surrounded by a white blanket, white fluff, cinnamon sticks, and pinecones
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Heather Ritchey, a 49-year-old,  part-time resident of Okoboji, said, “My home is wherever my immediate family or my best friends are gathered together sharing conversation, memories and laughs. Oh, and wherever my favorite pillow is located.”

people gathered around a table
Photo by Askar Abayev from Pexels

Home means different things as we grow up. When we are young, we hold onto the structure itself. As we grow older, the structure becomes more of a material thing. The people and the memories we make are what we will take with you when the house is no longer a part of our lives.


A 17-year-old raised in rural Hamburg Ty Rogers said, “When I think of home, I think of coming home and having a home-cooked meal from my mom. It’s where I can relax and I just like the feeling of being home.”

Family cooking together
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

When we are young, we rely on the never-changing home-cooked meals, the comforting smells when we walk through the door, and even the dog we’ve had since we were 10-years-old to greet us at the door. It’s the little things that make home feel so familiar. 


Sam Blain, a 20-year-old who calls Grinnell home, said, “Home, to me, is a feeling of safety and security whether it’s shared with a person, place or even just a smell.”

woman in white long-sleeve shirt looking out a rainy window
Photo by Leonardo Pavão from Pexels

To all of us college students, home is a retreat away from the stress of school and all of the unsureness of adulthood. We may have some extra freedom in Iowa City, but that also comes with facing a lot of things on our own. 


Allyson Andriano, a 20-year-old raised in Waterloo, said, “Home is a place of comfort and security. I feel like I can really unwind from school or whatever else might be happening at the moment. I have this type of freedom that puts me at ease even though I might actually have more freedom in Iowa City. I enjoy being at home because I get to be with my family and friends that I don’t get to see all that often. And nothing beats sleeping in my own bed at home.”

Woman in bed
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz from Unsplash

 Lexy Larsen, 22-year-old from Sidney, said, “Home is where I am surrounded by the people I love and is a place where I feel comfort and warmth.”

Person in Black and White Striped Socks Lying on Bed
Photo by Taryn Elliot from Pexels

As we retreat to all the different places we call home this holiday season, take a deep breath, relax, look around, and spend time with your loved ones. That’s what the holidays are all about. It’s easy to take for granted all that we had as we grew up. Now is the time to be grateful for the little things that turn a place into Home.

Delaney is a journalism major with a certificate in sustainability at the University of Iowa. Her dream career is to become a Marine Biologist and advocate for the environment through research and writing. In her free time, she enjoys music, friends, and the occasional ice cream venture (Okay, maybe not so occasional).
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