Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Thoughts on Home

Rhiannon Ireland discusses what home means to her.

As Christmas has just ended, a time where students traditionally return home to spend time with their family, an article about the concept of ‘home’ seemed an appropriate thing to write about. The traditional definition of home is usually where you and your parents or guardians live, in a house that you have lived in for many years, but to me, home does not have to be a physical place.

Home can be the smell of a candle that used to burn in your bedroom and remembering how its shadow flickered against the wall. It can be buying the same advent calendar your mum bought you for years, and remembering how you used to decorate the house with your family whilst listening to the sound of old black-and-white movies in the background.

To gain a wider perspective, I asked my friends what the concept of home meant to them.

My university friend Bobbi said that home was more friendship than a physical place, which I thought was especially fitting considering the upheaval of university life in second year when most tend to move into their first ‘proper’ house away from home. Bobbi says that, if she had to summarise, her sisters are her home, and I think that is an apt description of how people can influence your sense of comfort. Another university friend, Rachel, said something along the same lines. She told me that her idea of home is a place where you can be completely emotionally naked with a person and never feel awkward.

While we’re on the subject of comfort, my friend from home, Omima, said that home is a place where you can feel serene, and where you don’t feel awkward doing things like cooking and relaxing. Another home friend, Olivia, associates that feeling of home (Liverpool) with The Beatles, family roast dinners and card games. This made the most sense to me, as she spoke of a list of things that made her feel happy and un-anxious, to use her own words, and I too associate home with a collection of things rather than a physical place.

To me that feeling of home can be evoked when watching your favourite programmes with a friend hundreds of miles away via phone, live-texting the events just as though you were sitting next to each other. It can be a colour, perhaps a moss-green jumper that is the same colour as your mother’s eyes or the soft pastel blue that’s almost the same shade as your bedroom walls. It can be baking a dish you’ve been making for years with a new person and remembering how you used to bake it with an old friend, one from kindergarten, and how it should taste the same but it doesn’t and maybe that’s okay. Home is hearing the first few notes of a song and remembering the dance routine you and another friend made up in the middle of the day, transporting yourself back to seven-hour long car journeys where you both sang your hearts out to pass the time and thinking of how much you’d like to do that again.

Being homesick is resenting those who can go home at weekends and rebuking yourself because you moved so far away, hearing someone’s voice down the phone but it does not sound the same because it has been distorted by distance. It is is missing shops and streets that aren’t in the place you reside, calling the house you live in home even if you’re not sure if it’s true because everything feels so strange and even your favourite teddy bear and a few of the books you couldn’t bear to leave behind don’t make it the same. But when you find that feeling of home, it washes all of the sickness away, and what I’ve learned from asking my friends is that home is a place where you remember all of the things that make you comfortable and use them to make your house feel like a home.

To end, I want to reiterate that home does not have to be where you come from. Home is a collection of all the things that make you feel just that: at home.