Home is wherever YOU are
Written by Rajath D.M., Master’s candidate at Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e)
How do we define home?
This is rather a personal question which has different depths of meaning to everyone in the world. But it can still be categorized into family, friends, food and hobbies.
Motivational speakers, priests and even saints tell us that we find true happiness and peace at every location and then we are at home. This seems rather hard to understand and digest, but I will try to illustrate with my own anecdote.
First Time Away from Home
At the age of 13, living in India where I am from, I moved away from my parents to live at boarding school. It was my intention to go to a boarding school as it was mystery to me at that age. I convinced my parents to put me in a nearby boarding school and I was excited while buying all the new things such as clothes, daily accessories, and many more. I still remember the first day when my parents dropped me off and I arranged my room. I was staying with three other people and I was happy to meet new people from all over my state/province.
The reality settled in the next day. I was missing all the luxury aspects of living with my parents. As you move in to a new place, your behavior changes and tries to adjust to new reality. I missed my parents, my old friends and the city I grew up in. I was miserable and I was crying every day. During this time, there were no mobile phones so I started writing letters to my parents begging them to take me back. I promised that I would be a good boy and behave in the utmost respectful way if they took me back. I cried for two weeks straight.
My parents were only allowed to meet me once a month. When
they met me, I cried the whole day. My father taught me the lesson of life right then. He did not let me be with my mother so that she would not have change of heart. The whole day he boosted the courage saying that this experience was a test and how I could face it. He convinced me to stay there for a year, just a year, and then I could move back.
Challenge Accepted. Finding Home.
Well, in the end I accepted his challenge and stayed. I started to find my holdings. I made friends, learned new skills, started eating different food and tried to understand what made me happy. I could honestly say that I did find home there because I could talk to my friends about my achievements and fears, learned to enjoy new food and new hobbies.
The most important part was, whenever I felt at a loss and miserable, I had a foundation to get support from. I am happy to say that from then on I have always stayed in different cities and met many new people. The longest I have stayed in any city is about four years!
“…whenever I felt at a loss and miserable, I had a foundation to get support from.”
Adjusting to Life in Eindhoven
Before moving to the Netherlands, I had never left India. I moved to Eindhoven to pursue my master’s. Eindhoven is my first ever first world city to visit and stay. I was not hesitant to move to new place because I had already moved 5 times. But this time, I was not moving within my province or country or even the same continent. I was moving to something completely different from what I experienced before in my life.
Adjusting to life in the Netherlands, there are dramatic changes such as lifestyle, food, culture, religion, technology, language and even education. Actually these new experiences are the most interesting part to me. These dramatic changes are what drives me to do new things.
The first question my family and friends asked was if I felt anxious or even scared to move so far away. I did not feel those emotions because I was eager to move and witness all of these new things. On my first day in Eindhoven, which I still vividly remember, I went to the hotel with all my luggage and I was happy to see the city so well planned and structured. My phone charger would not fit the sockets here and I could not contact my family. I did not know where to go and also what to eat. I did not have any friends to talk to and I did not know any place to go and drink. All the shops were closed by 6 in the evening and there were barely any people walking on the streets. These little things started to annoy me and then the boredom set in. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why did I make this decision to move?”
But I tried to push these worries aside and I went to the hotel lobby and asked them if they could help me charge my phone. They had adapters and also chargers. Though a seemingly meaningless event, this was the first lesson I learned: people are friendly if you are friendly to them and they are happy to help you if they can.
I started to integrate with the international community of students from TU/e and over time, everything worked the way it had before at boarding school. I made friends, started to cook the food I like, enjoyed the cuisine here and started cultivating new hobbies. I do not intend to say that everything was easy, but I have to stress that I intended to have an open mind and to learn and do new things. I could eventually find my place and build a foundation in Eindhoven.
“I do not intend to say that everything was easy, but I have to stress that I intended to have an open mind and to learn and do new things.”
I have been now living in Eindhoven for more than one year and a half. The city feels more home to me rather than any other place. So in the end, finding friends, hobbies, and favorite places to eat are the things that make me feel at home, no matter where I am living. Sometimes continuing the hobbies, talking to my family or an old friend, going on short trips and also meeting old friends at the new place keeps the feeling of being at home as well. Even though I have traveled half way across the world, I can still meet people who share same taste of music, entertainment, hobbies and ideas. Because of this, I can still make HOME wherever I AM.
“So in the end, finding friends, hobbies, and favorite places to eat are the things that make me feel at home, no matter where I am living.”
Rajath is a Master’s student at TU/e. firstname.lastname@example.org