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A Home Here and a Home There

Hagar Gomaa, Koç University Exchange, Fall 2013

My last few days in Istanbul were a mix of last minute to do items, cramming for exams, and a perpetual feeling of denial that I was leaving what had become a home to me. I convinced myself mentally that I was ready to go back, ready to see my family, and ready for the cold.

I had 10 short days of break at home before I came back to Northwestern to begin winter quarter. It was wonderful to be reunited with my family and relatives. The new year has already brought new experiences for me since it is my first time living off campus and I am starting to understand and love the apartment life. Although the cold front left me trapped in my apartment, it was nice to have a few extra days to readjust to Evanston and Northwestern.

It wasn’t until my first few days in Evanston that this feeling of homesickness for Istanbul came. It’s been difficult readjusting to Northwestern and the American way of doing everything. Ever since I’ve come to campus I have felt the return of a feeling that I hadn’t experienced in a while, urgency. The hustle and bustle that comes with being a Northwestern student stands in stark contrast to the atmosphere in Turkey. After only one week of classes, I am aware of the amount of responsibilities I have and the strict timeline by which I must complete them.

My experience abroad was defined by the people I met. It’s odd to me that the people I once saw regularly every day, now live on a different side of the planet. We all came from different universities, countries, and cultures; yet we managed to make each other family. I have walked away from my experience with a better understanding of my relationships with other people. It was refreshing to be surrounded by people with open minds who were eager for new experiences and I have to remind myself to keep this attitude as I continue my time at Northwestern.

There is something charming about being surrounded by familiar faces, catching coffee at Norris, and walking into tech. My days have fallen into a similar rhythm; not the myriad of crazy adventures that I had in Istanbul, but certainly a return to my reality.

“So do you feel like anything has changed?”, my friend asked me upon my return.

I smiled and said “Nope, just me”.

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