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How Being an Out-of-State Student Changed My Perspective of “Home”

Home: (Noun) the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

Unless you’re Roger, and can’t seem to figure out where you actually live.

For some, home is just where you go over summer break, counting the days until we’re back at UMass, free as a bird. For me, home has become a sanctuary and something I desperately look forward to. Coming from Portland, OR, I knew from the beginning I was making a conscious decision to see my family less than the average student. In my head, I can hear myself saying almost two years ago, “I’m independent and I can do literally anything.” LOL at me.

Every damn day.

This is still true, but I still need home sometimes. So often, I hear students and friends complaining that they don’t want their parents to come visit, or they feel forced to go home for a weekend every once in a while. I sympathize with my friends when they complain, but I would do anything to have my family just a little bit closer sometimes. There’s something to be said when you’re having a rough day or are sick and just want some real food and people that expect absolutely nothing from you.

My friends talking to their parents after a visit.

I know I’m incredibly lucky in the sense that I have a family I can be excited to go home to, not everyone has the same family dynamic as I do. At the end of the day, I know I could call my mom and ask to come home tomorrow and at the drop of a hat she would be booking flights, no questions asked. 

Home used to be a place where I would hang out with my friends and get dropped off late at night, guaranteed that my dad would have stayed up waiting for me. That used to annoy me, because as a supposedly independent woman, I don’t need him to check in on me all the time. In all honesty, I feel safer knowing I can call my dad and he’ll be up waiting, at the slim chance I might need anything. 

I got it from my mama.

Home went from being a kind of annoying, to kind of nice place where I have my own bed and pets and a fridge that I can raid at 2 a.m. and not deal with walking to late night in the frigid cold to my own little heaven where I can curl up on the couch and know my dad will come rub my feet because I’ve trained him so well. Something tells me it would take some serious coercion and bribing to get my roommate to do that. Home is where my family is, and being so far away most of the year makes them unique to me, almost like my own little treasure to look forward to. 

Normally I’m the one pushing my dad somewhere.  

I have two homes now, UMass and Portland. While I still miss my city streets and unlimited access to the strangeness that brings, I’ve found my own little home at UMass too, showing anyone can have two homes if they really wanted to.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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Elena Lopez

U Mass Amherst

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