As I transition into my final semester at Penn, I’ve been taking a lot of time to reflect on the past four years and how they’ve shaped me into the person I am right now, sitting on my bed, typing this post. It’s so hard to describe how much I’ve changed since freshman year, and how many aspects of my life feel so much more complete and real and true than they did just a few years ago. Often, when I try to put myself back into the shoes of my high school self, it’s hard to remember what my life was like before college. I spent so much time as a teenager feeling lost, alone, and disconnected from myself and others, but right now, in this moment, I can’t imagine feeling more in tune with who I am.
Our years spent at college coincide with a time of major change in our lives, where we experience incredible periods of growth. We transition from teenagers to young adults, we experience unique stressors and learn to cope with them, we discover new ways to communicate and collaborate, and we form bonds with others that are meaningful and unforgettable. While our childhood experiences hold a lot of weight in shaping the people we become, often the origins of our adult life are planted in the rich, intriguing era of our early twenties. This major, ever shifting period of my life has been deeply affected by my time spent in Philadelphia. Penn has turned out to be so much more than a university for me – it’s become one of the places that I call home.
Merriam-Webster defines “home” as one’s place of residence, a social unit, a familiar setting, a place of origin. Home is where my three roommates are – where we cook dinner together, talk about both grave and unimportant things, and almost always go to sleep smiling. Home is in the dance studio – where my team spends hours perfecting moves and making each other laugh so much that I can’t remember what I was stressed about before walking in the room. Home is the School of Nursing – where I have seen many early mornings and late nights, where I have truly learned how to care and lead and innovate. Home is the LGBT center – where I can have serious conversations with the staff, bake cupcakes with a club I’m in, and browse a library full of books that all tell me I am exactly where I need to be.
Home isn’t just one place. It’s a combination of all the spaces I feel safe, loved, and understood. Home is where I want to go after a long day, where I bring together friends, where I deal with the good and bad moments life throws at me, where I grow, where I become. Throughout the past four years, Penn is where I have found all of these things. As I graduate and move on in just a few months, it’s inevitable that my idea of home will shift – but there will always be a part of me that feels nostalgia for this campus, for the people I’ve met here, for what this time has given me.