Home is where the heart is. Or is it? Last time I checked, my heart’s still beating within my chest, between my lungs, behind my breastbone. Unless you’re one for euphemisms. In that case, your heart may very well be locked away in the toy chest of your childhood bedroom. Might I suggest you go ahead and retrieve it now before the house is sold to a pair of blood-thirsty-German-Shepherd owning newlyweds who were only able to scrape up a subpar offer.
Homesickness seems to be a requirement whenever someone leaves their own bed in order to venture out into the world. Whether this time period is one day or four years, it is a feeling that most people experience. I, however, have found that homesickness is not a state that I easily encounter.
The first time I encouraged myself to feel homesick was during my term abroad in Italy my junior year of high school. I arrived to Rome parentless. No use in paying the extra plane fare — or really, no way of paying for it sounds more accurate. I was a thousand miles away from my suburban comfort zone, with absolutely none of the Italian language down.
It was only until later that week at a café that I knew I was no longer in America. I had one euro in my pocket and a tourist-esque, persistent grin slapped on my face. “Acqua, por favore,” I managed jubilantly. The woman at the counter looked up from her phone and matched her makeup drowned eyes with mine, “Due euro.” I immediately went red. I only had that one coin and only a proficient skill in Spanish, “No tengo dinero.” “Then you can’t have the water,” the woman spat in a broken accent. She crudely grabbed the bottle. In that moment, it was not home I yearned for, it was for the nearest bathroom to lock myself in.
I can’t say that much of my disposition on homesickness has changed since I’ve been at Drexel. I’m still looking for bathrooms to hide in, but this is not because of my substandard Italian. Perhaps I am just too familiar with being far from family, as I attended a boarding high school, but even then I would remember to call my mother or father to update them on my life. My dad now has to call me to make sure I am still alive.
Drexel had done a noteworthy job at making me feel at home almost instantly. I was given a free goldfish during welcome week, introduced to friends I immediately connected with and reminded of my mother’s morning smoothies with those from “Urban Eatery.” If I’ve cried while being here, it was only for Jon Snow’s adversities on “Game of Thrones” or because I peeked at the balance in my bank account — not due to lack of family.
Over the course of these seven weeks, I’ve walked in on students in my dorm releasing frustrations to parents on the phone. I’ve consoled peers while they’ve shed tears of familial nostalgia. I have been the “mother” of the friend group and given the maternal-esque advice. Conversely, I’ve yet to catch up with my siblings in depth, or reach out to my closest cousins. When I’m caught in the rain or fatigued from a morning of ROTC training, I look forward to a shower in Towers Hall and a cup of Saxby’s with my dormmates; my home in Branford, Connecticut seems too illusory to wish for. Thus, forgive me for saying this, but I do not passionately yearn to be in the presence of my family, in my own bed, next to my puppies; I am exercising the practice of living in the now. If what I have now is an education, friends I adore and a slice of Savas pizza, I am quite content. Until Thanksgiving break, I will only be homesick for the springy mattress in my very own dorm room, my home away from home.