By Anna Hennessey
The other day in Latin class my professor told us that the Greek root of the word
nostalgia is illness. Causing a ruckus, I scrambled through my backpack looking for any scrap of
paper so I could write this down. Nostalgia is illness. I was immediately moved by this
statement because I had just been recently doing a lot of thinking about the concept of what is
home, especially to college students. I found myself over my fall break saying, “when I go back
home Sunday” home being back to Villanova. My dad contradicted me saying, “wait but you are
home.” But was I?
Being a second-year college student, I’ve been holding the paradox of having two homes
in my hands. Recently, I’ve felt like I don’t have a concrete home. If my house in Newton with
my immediate family is my “home”, why do I only live there five months of a year, not even if
you count when we go to our beach house. Even the last time I was home I had to sleep on the
couch because we had a family guest. I spend more time in the middle of Pennsylvania each
year then I do in Massachusetts and yet MA is supposed to be my home.
I sometimes wonder if I will ever have a physical concrete home again. Right now, I feel
like I am in between homes. Villanova is home but so is Newton, MA. When I think about having
a physical home I think of a house with a gate, backyard, laughing, and dancing in the kitchen.
But is all that just nostalgia? If nostalgia is an illness as the Greek root implies, am I not okay for
looking back on these memories and feeling a want for them? I miss having all of my things in
one place in my own room. I miss coming home from school doing my homework with my dad,
eating dinner with my family then going to bed. I also am confused because I love college a
billion times more than high school. Sometimes, though it just feels like I am moving so fast,
and I don’t have a time or place to myself. I’m stuck in the in between.
I think this feeling of being in between or even an outsider when you go “home” is one
many colleges students face. It’s hard because we mostly still rely on our parents for a lot of
things, but we live away from them for 9 months out of the year. Sometimes going home can
feel like we are visiting our house, but it’s also our house. After going to college, I feel like I am
a different person than high school me but going home I feel like a fish out of water. My family
still treats me like my old self, but I am not that same person.
When I sat down to write this, I asked a few of my friends what home meant to them.
My friend Emily immediately said, “my dad” while my friend Charlotte told me it was the
“feeling of warmth and comfort.” My other friend Jack told me it was, “wherever you feel
safe/comfortable to be yourself.” Don’t get me wrong these are adorable answers, but
something about these answers for me feel off. I get that home is supposed to be where the
people I love are and that I can have multiple different homes but sometimes I feel as if I will
never have the complete concept of one home again.
What I have been trying to do to help manage my mind around the concept of home is
to hold this parallel of college and home being home in my hands as an equal. Villanova with
my best friends in the world is home because I am surrounded by people I love, but Newton MA
is also home for the same reason. I also know that I will always have somewhere to go to be my
home; my family is never going to leave me alone. I’m never not going to have anyone. I’ve also
realized that it is okay to welcome change and the growth and differences in yourself and try to
make those around you realize them too. And as long as I believe this, I will be okay.