During one of my writing modules this semester, we discussed liminal spaces; places that are in-between, border places or places in transition like an airport, travelling on a bus or train and places like universities. For a lot of students, university is a place of transition. Students move to a place away from home where they can start building their new lives and identities away from their parents. University is a stepping stone. It’s a place where you can get a degree for a future job. It’s also a temporary home. Most students move away once they have finished their degrees. Meanwhile, the parental home remains a constant one but as a result of these two places, one might feel in-between.
‘Do I belong anywhere?’ is a question I think other students can relate to. University becomes a home, but the parental home is usually still referred to as ‘home home’. The question comes from no longer feeling entirely at home at either where they grew up or at their new home at university. Students may feel like they want to be home when they’re at university or like they want to be at university when they’re at home. However, students often return ‘home home’ during summer or other breaks and while they may change flats in their university town every year, their parental home remains their main home.
My home and ‘home home’ is slightly different from this idea. My parent’s places are still my home too, but when I moved to Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth became my ‘home home’ rather than my in-between home. When I moved to the UK, my parental house had been sold and both my parents ended up living elsewhere. Although I always feel welcome and to some extent at home, I don’t associate these new houses with my permanent home. They are (very simply put) houses with a bed where my parents happen to live. I feel like I’m visiting rather than coming home. There is a certain etiquette in each household that is somewhat unfamiliar to me and I have no personal room (a room with my stuff in it) like I used to in my parental house. That is not to say I dislike these new places, but they’re not mine like my place in Aberystwyth is and like my old home in the Netherlands was.
Yet, at the same time, Aberystwyth can’t really be my ‘home home’ no matter how hard I’ve tried to make it so. I’m a student and one day (very soon in fact) I will graduate and will have to move on. It’s strange because I feel like I could possibly settle down here and make it my actual home. But then again, many people that contribute to making this my home will also leave and I wonder if that would change anything. Perhaps a place as small as Aberystwyth also can’t offer me what all my dreams desire. What then is my ‘home home’ if it’s not in Wales and not in the Netherlands either? Sometimes I feel like I’m in between; neither there or here but it has its advantages too. I’m not chained to anything or anywhere and have the whole world at my feet. For now, I am incredibly fortunate for having several places that I can call my home and it is time to enjoy the freedom of being in-between while I still can.