No place like home

By Samara Abramson

In the New Oxford Dictionary, “home” is defined as “the place where one lives permanently,” but I have decided that there is more to it than that.


Technically, college students don’t really have a “permanent residence.” Due to long weekends and seasonal breaks, we’re forced to travel back and forth between college and home. Other than winter break and the summer, there are few times when it is possible to go home without living out of a suitcase. And trust me – nothing feels more out of place than searching for jeans in a suitcase in your own bedroom.

Growing up in the suburbs of Massachusetts, I always dreamed of going to a school far away from home; somewhere exotic to me like California or Hawaii. My mother never even considered allowing me to apply to schools so far away from home, and I am so grateful for that now.

When I was a junior in high school and everyone started thinking about college more seriously, I began considering schools that were a plane ride away, but still on the East Coast. After visiting universities in Maryland, D.C. and Florida, I found that these areas seemed like they could suit as my new home. Obviously, I ended up choosing UMass. In terms of money, I knew I would be saving by attending an in-state school. Even though Amherst is over two hours away from my house in southeastern Massachusetts, I felt as though going to school in my own state would feel more like home than Maryland or Delaware ever would, and this was comforting to me. Surprisingly, this is not the case – western Massachusetts feels completely foreign compared to where I am from.

As my freshman year has progressed, I have been plagued by my fair share of illnesses. During a bad case of tonsillitis, sinusitis or mono, all I really wanted was my mom’s matzo ball soup and my own bed. During these times, I was confronted by how difficult it is to simply go home for the weekend.

Without a car at school, it sometimes feels like I’m stuck where I am. Luckily, I haven’t experienced full-blown homesickness, but there are times where I sit back and really appreciate where I’m from. Even at a school where the dining commons are nationally ranked, nothing beats my mom’s spinach linguini or my dad’s creative salads.

I think around this time of year, students, specifically freshmen, are starting to appreciate the delicacies that home has to offer, and I believe that only when you have the ability to appreciate where you came from can you truly enjoy your time away from home. Once you stop comparing home to school and school to home, you are able to value the perks of each.

Like so many other students, I look forward to studying abroad, having summer internships and hopefully having an exciting career in the city after graduation. With all of these incredible experiences in the foreseeable future, the idea of home can become pretty ambiguous. In short, a dorm room or an apartment will never feel like home the way the house I grew up in does.

Over spring break, I went on a few adventures myself, forced to be completely independent at times, and it really got me thinking about how much longer I will consider my home to be my home. I went from school to a Peter Pan bus to my friend’s house on Long Island, N.Y., to JFK International Airport to West Palm Beach International Airport to my grandma’s condo in Delray Beach, Fla., to Fort Lauderdale International to Logan Airport to my house and finally back to school. I had one duffel bag and one carry-on bag for all of these adventures.

I was faced with this realization – nowhere would ever truly feel like home, except home. No matter how comfortable I am in my dorm room or at my friend’s house or in my grandma’s condo, none of these places would ever size up to the comfort of my own bedroom.

I guess in a way, part of the journey of growing up has to do with creating an environment that feels as close to home as possible. A dorm room and even an apartment in a big city will never feel identical to home, but it can feel like a new kind of home. It’s nice to know that you really can go back home – it’s just important to grow up at the same time and create a new home for yourself on the outside.

Samara Abramson is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].