The story of how a weekend with a friend turns my conception of home upside down
The past weekend I left DC for the first time this semester, to visit a very good friend who is currently studying at the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA. It was so good to talk to my friend – we’ve known each other since we were twelve and it was such a relief not to think about the language and share each other’s experiences coming from a similar background. We had a lovely dinner in the Cheesecake Factory, attended an a cappella concert, walked around campus, partied a little and had nice brunches in the dining hall. Besides that, visiting a different university involved adapting to a change of scenery, a change of pace, and a change of people. Many changes, but was it very different from GW?
In some ways, yes. The campus of Richmond university is very rustic – it literally lies in the middle of a forest. There’s a huge lake, with bridges connecting the different parts of campus to each other and very pretty residence halls and apartments, that reminded me of the campuses in Oxford and Cambridge. In addition, it has a very large dining hall, where everyone has breakfast, lunch and dinner, making every meal of the day a very social event, and a delicious one at the same time, with its provision of many different foods.
In other ways, this university was not that different from GW at all. College life seems quite similar. In those three days that I spent on campus, we attended several dorm parties, with the same kinds of beer pong games and the same degree of temporary insanity. Moreover, even though the campus is much prettier than GW’s, students are, like GW students, spending their days inside -the library or their dorms – studying.
This weekend was a breath of fresh air (literally), but it also made me realize something I had not given real thought before, and something that I had not expected to occur so early in the semester. On my bus ride back to DC I was sleeping and looking forward to my own bed again. However, once the bus entered the city, with its Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial on the left, and all its majestic, marble buildings throughout the rest of the city center, a surge of happiness suddenly overcame me. And in that moment I realized: DC has already become the place I consider to be home. At the moment, the place I perceive as home is not Nieuwkoop, my home town, and nor is it Maastricht – it is DC. It was very uncanny for me to realize this, but at the same time it was an honest moment of happiness – feeling so close to a place I only lived in for a little less than two months.
DC as my home – I would never have believed had somebody told me this a few years ago, and realizing that I feel this way is definitely food for thought.
P.S. Answer to last week’s question on whether I hit the ball or missed? It seems kind of obvious looking at how far I am standing from where the ball was going to be thrown: alas, I missed.