Students rethink what it means to feel at home
By Megan Blarr
Where do you live?” Seems like a simple question, right? Well not if you’re a student going away to college. Suddenly, things seem a lot more complicated. As a freshman, I’ve had some adjusting to do since move-in day a month ago. As I was moving into my dorm room, I was forced to ask myself: What is “home”? Is it my house back in Buffalo, N.Y., or is it where my friends are?
The concept of “home” has a deep emotional meaning, one that holds memories of family and childhood friends. Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatry correspondent for Fox News Channel, writes in an article for PsychCentral.com, “Losing one’s home can feel like losing one’s self.” If this is true, then moving away to college can be a bigger deal than we thought. Not only do we have to adjust to new surroundings, we have to essentially become new people in the process.
“Home” can be defined as “where you live at a particular time” which means that for college students, Ithaca is indeed our new home. Still, another online definition describes home as “an environment offering affection and security.” How many of us can honestly say we feel more affection here than back in our hometown?
This brings me back to that question: “Where do you live?” Personally, my response the first few days here was “Buffalo.” And, although I’ve learned to say I live in Terrace 13, it seems that my heart and home are still in Buffalo, back with my family enjoying some hot Buffalo wings and watching the Bills game.
Lindsey Ahern, a freshman at IC, feels the same way. When asked where she lived she said, “A small town five minutes from the shore in New Jersey.” One would think that after nearly a month on campus, she would be at home with IC. “In a way I do feel like this is my home,” she said. “Home to me is more of where I feel most comfortable and that’s usually with my friends or my family.”
“I have absolutely made friends who feel like family,” senior David Frederking said. “Without them, I would just be going to school.” In this way, the relationships we build with the people around us will undeniably make Ithaca seem more like home.
My roommate Alyssa Stoeckl, who’s also from Buffalo, thinks the transition from college to “home” is a fast one. “It takes about as long as it does for you to get used to living there,” she said. “Probably like a week or two.”
Others may feel vastly different. “You have to stay at least a year, but it can take much longer,” Frederking said. “If you think it’s home before a year, you are either lucky or still running on the excitement of being new to college.”
So after a year, college will definitely seem like home, right? Not according to junior Jesse Cases, who transferred from Cayuga Community College this semester. “I think college can become a temporary home, but you’re never going to forget where your real home is and your real family,” he said. “I don’t think I could view a school as a home. Maybe the community, depending on how everything plays out, but a school will never be my home.”
In the end, it comes down to comfort. College doesn’t have to take the place of your home with your family. It simply becomes a different kind of home, somewhere we feel “comfortable.” As college students, we redefine “home” and what it means for us. Usually, it becomes that “environment offering affection and security,” a place where we not only live but also feel at ease.
It seems that as freshmen, our concept of “home” changes so that by the time we’re seniors, we can certainly embrace Ithaca. For me, I will always think of Buffalo as my first real home. Still, Ithaca College will always hold a special place in my heart. And we all know home is where your heart is.
Megan Blarr is a freshman journalism major. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.