These past two weeks have been a drastic change from my lifestyle throughout the past eighteen years. I was born in Fremont, California, where I lived out my childhood. I’ve seen buildings erected over many years, new parks being built, and many of my favorite restaurants close during my time there. I have many memories simply within my own bedroom, which was right across the street from my elementary school.
My life in my hometown was comfortable: it was regular and each day was predictable in the best way. I would look forward to my grandma’s omelets, pruning our garden with my dad, and visiting my mom at the restaurant she managed. When I stepped foot on the UC Davis campus, the only thing I felt was fear. Fear of not fitting in, fear of being alone, and most of all, fear of a new life. I was tearful as I said goodbye to my parents and dog, knowing I would not be able to visit them for a while.
In Fremont, I never stopped to consider how crucial my friends were to me, to how much they affected how I grew up and acted around others. As I settle into my new life, I have been fortunate enough to have friends from my high school here with me, to ease the transition into a new environment. When I return back to my dorm after a difficult test, this is the time when I feel most homesick and want the comfort of my mother’s food or my grandpa’s bedtime stories.
I was not able to realize how important they would be for me before my homesickness hit full force. Although I am extroverted and enjoy meeting new people, I have realized that there is no greater comfort than friends that feel like “home,” people that are a safe space for me and that I can rely on.
I recognize that these emotions are normal; every college freshman, every student, at one point or another has wanted to return home, to a place where they feel safe enough to break down and feel their emotions fully. It is hard to be vulnerable around new people, especially in a new place that is unfamiliar. Home to me has become not just my physical house, but all the people I associate with the feeling, the feeling of being free to express myself without judgment, and being able to have a hug whenever the world feels hard.
Real, deep friendships take time. Until then, I am forever grateful that I have parts of my hometown here with me to help me navigate this new life. Even when we are sitting together and doing simple tasks such as completing homework, it is comforting to have their presence and to know that they are available for anything I need no matter what.