In Urdu, we call it ghar. In Svenska, it’s hem. Home is an interesting concept. We can spend a lifetime in one place, without ever knowing what home feels like. Or we can spend a lifetime moving, changing paths but finding home at every turn. The versatility of the word is where my intrigue truly lies. Some associate it with a place. For some, it’s a person. It could be a scent or a flavor. Laced with comfort, it echoes laughter just like it’s tainted with hints of grief, the feeling home is often all one might seek.
Where are you from? It’s a question you can’t avoid no matter who you are, where you go. And for most, it’s a pretty straightforward answer. But phrase it differently, Where do you call home? This becomes much more difficult to answer. Although seemingly simple, the question has many layers to it, and no one answer. Because home isn’t necessarily your place of birth, the town in which you grew up, or the house you lived in. Home is where your heart lies and where you have peace of mind. I am a firm believer that home isn’t something you’re born into. Home is something you discover or create.
On this campus, we have all come together from some place or person we call home. And we say we left our home behind, but that doesn’t need to mean we can’t create a new one. Home does not need to be something we long for. Home can be what we choose. Home holds a very different meaning for me. I do not associate home with any one place or person. Home to me is a feeling. It rushes back to me in the most unexpected moments, like the scent of your mother’s perfume you recall from your childhood. It catches me off guard, but in the softest way possible.
Despite living a few thousand kilometers away from everything and everyone I’ve known, I’ve still managed to find traces of home here – and in the most mundane things. The plant in the store downtown, just like the one in my living room. The tree with the bench underneath, it always gives me déjà vu. A moment from high school rushing to greet the present. This girl with the big smile and watercolor eyes, it feels like my childhood best friend was sent back into my life.
It’s exciting, it’s terrifying, and it’s vast. The horizon we’re looking into right now is full of opportunities. The unknown will look at you in the eye and as daunting as it might seem, it could be an avenue for something great. All of us here away from home, whatever that may mean to us, are on the path to achieve and create excellence. And this wouldn’t be possible unless we took the leap to leave home.
It’s important we open our hearts and minds to the possibility of a new home. One that can take the shape of anything, and we can find out only if we welcome the unknown.