After some of the busiest weeks of her life, full of new friends, new places and new subjects, writer Alice Hearing couldn’t wait to go home and recuperate with her family.
After four weeks of non-stop working and socialising and discovering, you return to a strangely familiar place you call home. The word ‘home’ has seeped its way into your vocabulary over the past few weeks in reference to a different place – your new accommodation, whether it’s in halls or private rented.
There’s always going to be one thing that you do first, something you’ve been thinking about constantly. The first thing I did was try to start my dented, old, rusted blue car. Clearly my want of adventure never ceased because here I was, trying to drive a car that refused to start, abandoned for a month with a grudge against me for leaving it to rust a little more. I think it missed me and I missed it too.
You suddenly realise how much your family means to you.
I was speeding down country roads blaring The Smiths as loudly as I possibly could with my dad in the passenger seat duetting with Morrisey like the best friend I never had. The occasion became a memory.
These become memories you and I can keep of the life we lead back home.
You begin to indulge in the luxuries of non-student life – the food that isn’t own brand, a hot bath and a flat screen TV. You run around like you’re five years old at Disneyland, on a mad frenzy, taking it all in as much as possible. You seek out your pets, attacking them with hugs and strokes, ignoring their avid attempts to escape your grasp of long lost affection. You run upstairs to fall daringly backwards on to your parents’ double bed, feeling the rush of the air past your ears before landing upon blankets dominated with the smell of washing powder. And maybe you run to every window to see a different view, faintly remembering all the different ways they looked in each season.
I boiled the kettle just to hear the satisfying click.
Personally, on my first evening back, I was caught by emotion in a familiar scene that I realised I’d been homesick for all along. I was sitting on the sofa in front of Have I Got News For You in my pyjamas with a cup of hot tea, facing our warm open fireplace. I took in my surroundings, observant. To my left was the wooden statue of a giraffe my parents had brought back from Africa, to my right a mask from India. Behind me was a grandiose mirror, an antique passed down through my family, and the fireplace was ornate and slightly out of place. My old house bore strange looking beams on every wall and ceiling. Upstairs my dad was tucking my little brother into bed. The familiarity stunned me; I never realised how much I’d missed the simple things. All my family were home at once this weekend and this being such a rare occasion, it felt like Christmas. It was a wonderful quality of life.
Strange, how enlightening it is to realise the real differences between university life and home. After talking to a few different people, I realise that they have had different experiences of coming home. Some people leave it longer before returning and so their feelings might be stronger. On the other hand, some people have returned home almost every other weekend so the feeling won’t be as strong. Others have found the return more relaxing rather than emotional. However, the first homecoming is significant and certainly a great relief to anyone feeling homesick.
If you’re reading this and you’ve been missing home, it would not be home if you do not miss it. Feeling this way means appreciating what you really have. Hang on in there. It takes surprisingly little time for something wonderful to happen that will distract you from missing home so much and maybe it will make life a little more bearable for now. Hold on to this sentiment and know that you are not alone.