In case you hadn’t noticed, we are near the end of the semester. Less than two weeks, and we’ll be heading home. Or will we be leaving home?
When I was a first-semester freshman I would definitely have said that I was going home. Sure, I made friends with a lot of people at Dordt, but I was going back to my family and to where people knew me and I was familiar with everything. The first time I went back home was for Thanksgiving Break. The first day was blissfully wonderful—I slept in a little, got up to a leisurely breakfast, helped cook for the big meal, and then went on a hike with my parents and sisters. No worrying about roommates or friends or members of the opposite gender. Around your family you don’t have to think about your image or your outfit—you just do you.
Then came the Thanksgiving Eve service at church. We pulled up, walked in, and I felt like I had never left. It was the same church, same people, same me. When I walked into the sanctuary and saw some of my friends we were all hugs and giggles until the service started. The service was also familiar—it was like a cold drink of water to hear the familiar singing and preaching and praying (not that I didn’t have a good church at Dordt; it just wasn’t home).
After the service I had plenty of people to talk to, but as I walked around in between conversations, it really hit me that while I had been away living and learning at college, most of these people had stayed here, living there lives, unaffected by my presence or absence. Oh sure, most people noticed that I had left (they do in a small church), but it didn’t change anything for them. Even my good friends—they missed me, but they hadn’t been sitting around mourning my absence. They had adjusted, moved on, made their own inside jokes.
Thanksgiving Day was, of course, packed full of food and people and activities, and I again had that sense of being home, of being loved by people who really knew me. But by the end of the week I was bored. Not only bored, but I just didn’t know where my place was at home. What chores do I need to help with? Can I borrow the car? What am I supposed to do while everyone is working?
Well, Monday morning came, and after coffee with mom I hopped on a flight back to Sioux Falls. Walking back into Covenant (my dorm) gave me a strange sensation: the lobby, the decorations, the door leading into my room—these were as familiar as anything back home. My friends at Dordt—we were as happy as anyone to see each other again.
Now the transitions between going home and coming back to Dordt are much smoother. I still love spending most of my breaks with my family, but I am always ready to come back. Why is that? Because here (at Dordt) is where most of my life centers right now—school, church, friends, boyfriend.
When I go home I feel like I belong, and when I come back to school I feel like I belong. This split between home and college is somewhat of a blessing and a challenge. It’s hard to feel torn between two places and the people that belong in each. But it’s also pretty incredible that in less than four years a place that was completely unfamiliar to us can feel like home.
Oh, here is a little taste of the places and people that make up my different homes. :)