You Can’t Go Home Again

Hundreds of students join SMU’s campus every year. We have one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation and a residential commons system specially designed to foster a sense of community. The housing brochures actually say, “Welcome home.” Ten months out of the year are spent on campus; yet when we leave for break, we say we’re going “home.”

Within hours of my return home for Thanksgiving, I was surrounded by old friends desperate to see each other and share our stories. Warm cookies, fresh from the oven; the soft murmur of family members’ voices in the living room; the quiet rumble of the washer and dryer—all the sounds and comforts of home became background to a joyous reunion.
Home encompasses this intangible sense of comfort and security, feelings of belonging and community. Leaving for college made me wonder: Is there a point where home is no longer “home?”

At some point, I will leave the home where I was raised. There will be a time for me to find an apartment, get a job, and start a life, and I will build a “home” somewhere else. In my mind, my hometown and the house where I grew up will always feel like home. But not everyone has the same opportunity to both move forward and cling to the familiar comforts, sounds, and friends of their old world.

Many immigrants leave their countries due to violence, persecution, or poverty, among a litany of other reasons that jeopardize them and their families. Some even run from threat of death. There is no returning “home” for those forced to flee. Conflict shatters the safety we associate with home, and these people must build a new home wherever they end up, often constructing community without the comfort of family.

I visited over a dozen colleges and universities the summer before my senior year. Classrooms and campuses, dorm rooms and dining halls: they all seemed the same until I found myself staring up at the ceiling of Dallas Hall. There, I realized that some homes we can never return to—but if we’re lucky we can choose and find new places in which to build new homes. I’m one of the lucky ones; I found a place where I didn’t feel alone, a place where I could belong, a place, ultimately, to call home.

This article was written by Nicole Kiser. Click here to see more of Nicole’s work.