This past weekend was Thanksgiving break and the first time I visited “home” as a college student. I don’t put “home” in quotations to mock the word in any way, but to attempt to demonstrate how I feel about it.
Let me explain. As many international students or third culture kids would agree, “where are you from?” is the absolute hardest question we will ever be faced with. Not because we don’t have a home, or don’t identify with any culture, but because it’s almost impossible to choose out of the many amazing homes and cultures we’ve had the opportunity to experience and identify with, through our upbringing.
Here’s my story: Both of my parents were born and raised in Louisiana. I was born in North Carolina, moved to Louisiana for 3 years, moved to Switzerland for 3 years, moved to Singapore for 4 years and then spent the remaining 7 years of my upbringing back in Switzerland. Now I live in Boston.
Though I spent more time in some places than others, I find myself completely tangled with where home really is. Switzerland was essentially where I grew up for most of my life, but Louisiana is my culture, where my entire extended family comes from, and where we have spent Christmas every single year of my life. Do you see the complexity, yet?
To add to the confusion, my parents moved to North Carolina this Summer, as I moved to Boston for college, and they now live there more permanently than we have ever lived anywhere else before. So, for Thanksgiving break, “home” was North Carolina. And being there, with my whole family, in my parent’s newly bought house, felt more like home than any other place, no matter how familiar, would have felt.
It’s a strange feeling when missing home is a place I barely know at all and a place that changes regularly. Yes, it would be so easy to have one, go-to answer to the frightening “where are you from?” question (and it would have made introducing myself to people at orientation a whole lot easier!). But the fact that I get to call so many amazing places home is pretty cool too.
As my mind wandered on the plane ride back to Boston, I realized how lucky I am. For Thanksgiving, North Carolina was home. For Christmas, Louisiana will be home. When I get to visit Switzerland for the first time since I moved, it will feel just like home. Home is wherever I want it to be, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.