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As first-years, our lives change drastically. One day, we’re home with our parents to rely on and our dogs to wake us up in the morning. We’re accustomed to looking out the window everyday to see familiar surroundings. The next day, our routines dramatically changed.
Everything transformed for me when I went from living my one, usual lifestyle to having six different homes in a month.
I am a FYSAE student. Like other students, we went through orientation at Arcadia and made new friends and connections. But we had to leave soon after. On August 29, 27 students and I departed on a bus to JFK Airport. From there, we landed in London’s Heathrow and took another bus to our home for the next few days. By now I had been traveling with the same people for more than a week, and we had formed our own sort of home and security. This support system has been very important to the success of our rapidly changing lives.
Our first stop, London, was amazing. We learned how to adapt to city life, navigate the tube, eat street food, and appreciate the vibrant culture. It was normal to walk down the street and see Jamaican hip hop dancers, eat Italian gelato, and listen to French love songs played by the street musicians. We grew as people would in a normal, functioning home, if not more from all the new experiences.
Next stop, Edinburgh. Our first destination in Scotland, this city set a tone that I hope will last the rest of my stay. Edinburgh is a remarkable place, with an atmosphere that seems trapped in time. I like to think it traps people there, too. The gothic architecture and old cobblestone alleys led to endless discoveries as we adventured about. Although we only spent three days in the city, I still feel attached to the area because of the memories we made there. This was a universal feeling among my peers, with many agreeing, “This feels like home. I want to live here someday.” Despite the looming hotel rambling with people, it was a home.
Our last stop was a homestay in Stirling, which gave us a taste of local life and the parental feeling of home. This was as close to a conventional home as you can get being 3,000 miles away (it also helped that they had a dog). The people who welcomed and helped us in those few days made such a difference in our adapting to Stirling life. They made us feel comfortable in our new surroundings, provided us home-cooked meals, and gave us advice on our transition to university.
I discovered that it’s not the building that makes a home, but the people who live there with you. At first, I was out of sorts and apprehensive about this transition. Then I found my home. It was the people I was surrounded by the whole time. I knew that despite changing cities every few days, I still had a support system. Whether it be Arcadia, the London Center, Edinburgh Center, a homestay family, or with my fellow students at Stirling, I’ll always be home.
Now that I am settled into the University of Stirling and have my own dorm set up, I know I will be alright — more than alright — because I went from one home to six. Six places that I can learn and grow from. I think that’s pretty amazing.