The meaning of ‘home’

The holidays are a time during which families can get together to celebrate and eat lots of delicious food. For college students the holidays often entail returning home, but, as the years go by, some may question what going home really means.
Some students at Puget Sound—especially those who live on campus—may feel at home in their dorm room. It is a place to eat, sleep, work and socialize. For eight months out of the year, students devote their days working hard to get good grades,spending a greater part of the year on school grounds than with their families they left behind.
For a majority of students, going home is just that: getting back to a family who welcomes them with open arms and provides a refuge from the constant commitment of classes, tests, papers and other stresses that are part of the college experience. As students begin college, their perspective on home changes as years go by.
“I wanted to leave. I loved being home, but I was ready to go to college and do other things—go to college and have some freedom,” Natasha Breidenbach, a sophomore, said. But eventually she said she appreciated going home more.
“I feel like we create an idea of what home is like. We remember things that we miss, and even if it’s not perfect in reality, we still like to imagine it.”
This seems to be the sentiment of many students on campus. Especially during Thanksgiving, getting back home is hard for some for various reasons. But missing out on the time spent with family can be disheartening.
“To me the holidays mean family, so not being able to go home was akin to a slap in the face,” Ariel Lawson, a junior, said. “Campus is so lonely during long breaks. It’s so weird when everybody’s gone. Walking around campus is like walking in a ghost town. Whenever I see someone, I’m always surprised. The S.U.B. is closed so you basically have to fend for yourself.”
Those who live in Washington have the advantage of being able to see their families more often if they so choose. But there are plenty of students who aren’t able to do so. They have to wait until the longer breaks to get in some family time. According to junior Sarah Nordman, even Thanksgiving break isn’t enough time to spend with her family, despite being able to go back a few weeks later.
“I didn’t want to come back to school. Being at home was so nice. It was difficult leaving because I’m a big family person and it was really hard to say goodbye to my mom. I’m really close with her and even though I’m going home again soon, I wanted to spend more time with her,” she said.
When the time comes for students to leave home, emotions can run rampant. It’s great to get a break from school every once in a while and to be able to enjoy some time spent with family and friends that are not always close or available.
Going back to school can be exciting too, even though it means more homework and tests. But the opinion of most students is one of nostalgia for the safety and security of being home again with people who love them.
“Since coming to school, home has become a safe place where I don’t have to worry about anything,” Lawson said.
The perspectives students have about the fleeting nature of going home and coming back to school may differ in many ways, but the general majority seems to enjoy returning to their families, largely because it means less stress and better food. No matter how much of the year is spent on campus, no matter how many friends are made during the school year, the word ‘home’ still elicits images of family, security and warmth. Nothing could be better than that.