I don’t know how to feel right now about not returning home until next winter. There’s a huge part of me that could care less; I’ve lost a lot of the past attachments that I had to home and the familiarity of its surroundings; but then there’s also the part of me that likes the comfort it offers. Knowing that the same things will happen over and over again is comforting, because then I won’t have to face something that could completely throw me off my feet. Home is comfort in this sense; it’s a safe place to be because it’s completely predictable in all the things that happen there.
I’ve lived in the same area for 15 years now, and I only left New England last fall when I transferred to Wake Forest in North Carolina. It was… a rather life altering event. Though Wake Forest is comparable to many other universities in the U.S, offering similar educations and having similar university goals, I can’t compare it to any of the colleges or universities I’ve visited. This might be because the only schools I was able to visit were those in the area of New England (at least 3 random visits were spent on Harvard only to look at the architecture and campus). Wake Forest just happens to be far far away from the region of blizzards, the epic Patriots and the word “wicked”. Culture is much different at Wake than it is at New England (and that’s just common knowledge at this point), and there were definitely times where I felt very uncomfortable with where I was at, and the people I was with at Wake. But also, consider this: North Carolina and Maine just happen to be in the same country… on the same coast, in the same time zone. Actually, there’s only about a sixteen hour drive between the two states. There is so much variation in culture just by driving up the east coast of the U.S; in reality, that variation is only a small fraction of the variation from one end of the world to another. Really, the world is just a huge culture shock waiting for me to come explore it. All that variation makes me want to crawl back into my room and hide from the unfamiliarity that the world has to offer.
But as great as it is to hang onto the familiar, I think that there’s little learning when you’re only ever challenged by the same thing over and over again. That would include never leaving comfort. Like any person, I’ve already pieced together the daily patterns of home and its surroundings, and it’s fair to say that nothing really changes. But change is so important; change is what stimulates thinking, and the exploration of ideas and places. Change is especially important because it helps people grow; and if that’s true, wouldn’t you think that getting out of a place of constant repetition would be important in learning and contributing something good to the world?
And as great as New England and it’s comforts are to me, New England is one of the tiniest regions of the U.S, and quite frankly, the U.S only accounts for a fraction of the world. It’s a unique place for sure, but then again, there are unique places everywhere in the world. I guess I’ve come to terms with leaving home. Staying, now that would be far worse, because then I’d really be trapped in a fixed state of boredom. I’ll miss it and all the comforts it has to offer, but I definitely won’t be homesick; there are far more important things to be done than wallowing in the sad emotions of missing something, such as stepping out of the comfort zone and getting more connected to the diverse world surrounding us.
So Maine — until next winter!