Just three weeks ago I was longing for the end of finals and my return to the 401. Now, after nearly a month in Rhode Island, I am ready to make my return to the Hilltop and begin the spring semester of my junior year. As much as I enjoy spending time with my family and friends in R.I., Georgetown has become just as much as a home for me.
Although I keep procrastinating the packing necessary for my “homecoming,” I am very excited to get back to campus and see my second family. This past semester particularly I established such strong friendships, and I love my friends as if they were blood. But while my family in RI is happy that I am comfortable and in love with Georgetown, there is slight resentment anytime I reference the Hilltop as “home.” Even after only one semester, I was getting in trouble from my mom for dropping the “h” word when talking about Georgetown. After one such lecture, I wrote a reflective piece about finding my place at the university, later published as a viewpoint for the Georgetown HOYA. While I wrote the piece after my first semester, it still rings true, if not even more so.
My first viewpoint for the HOYA, “Finding Home on the Hilltop” is also my favorite. Originally printed January 22, 2010, here is the piece updated slightly to reflect my upperclassmen feelings as a junior at Georgetown University.
Back in Rhode Island for winter break during freshmen year, I made the mistake of referring to D.C. as my home. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip, but my mom certainly did not find it amusing. Although my parents allowed me to attend Georgetown, neither one of them have accepted the fact that it has become my home.
For all of my life I have lived in the town of North Providence, R.I. Residing in the smallest state in the country, I rarely went somewhere without encountering a familiar face. Though I certainly love Rhode Island, I understood while slogging through applications that college afforded me the opportunity to finally leave its condensed borders. As I packed that August two and half years ago for the 350-mile trip to school, leaving the only place I had always known as home was my only reservation
It is hard to believe, but I am more than halfway done with my undergraduate studies. Although the transition from living in the Ocean State to living in the nation’s capital has certainly had its challenges, adapting to Georgetown was not nearly as difficult as I had expected it to be. That is not to say that the transition was smooth. On the contrary, there were mornings when I wished my dad woke me up for class instead of my alarm clock. Other times, I wished that my daily schedule were as simple as the one I followed every day in high school. The longing for friendships reminiscent of those I had in R.I, also complicated matters. There were moments when all I wanted to do was vent to someone who was not a complete stranger. The absence of familiarity was daunting.
My return to Rhode Island carried with it a little bit of a “Twilight Zone” sensation. It seemed as if nothing had changed, as if I had never left. All my friends were home, and reunions were plenty. Because of Facebook and Skype, nothing at school truly separated me from connecting to those with whom I am closest. Leaving the recognizable sights, family dinners and quality time with those I had missed in order to return to Georgetown was certainly not easy. I felt slightly torn in ways that many freshmen probably are, but few give voice to.
Often, being conflicted about one’s home can lead to feelings of isolation or incompleteness. It is easy to become lost between two places childhood town and college campus with neither fully acting as a home base. I have found, however, that the opposite can also occur. “Home” is not an exclusive concept, and conflicting loyalties can find a balance. Rather than feeling out of place in Rhode Island or D.C., I have come to regard both as home.
Where did I find that sweet spot of harmony? In the mundane activities of a Georgetown student’s life. My dorm room is now the place I return to every night to sleep after an afternoon of classes and an evening at Lau. The Leavey Center has become the place I go to escape studying in the library, even if I often get distracted by gossip and Starbucks coffee. No longer does the walk to Yates seem to match the exertion of my gym workout, and no more does the new business school building seem new. Campus is no longer a complicated series of paths and unknown buildings; everything is now familiar.
Merriam Webster defines home as “a place of residence or a social unit where a family lives together.” While it might disappoint my parents to read this, Georgetown fits these definition. My classmates, resident assistant and dormitory neighbors have all become members of my new campus family. All of us are bonded together by our decision to continue our education on the Hilltop. We live together as a community driven by academic ambitions and aspirations of making a difference in the future. We are united by our enthusiasm in cheering on the athletic teams and booing our opponents. And even though none of us knows absolutely everyone on campus, we are all part of the same Hoya family. So sorry, Mom and Dad; Georgetown is just as much my home as is Rhode Island.
You can read the original piece here.