People often say “this feels like home”, but rarely say “this is home”. So, does only one true home exist, that is the origin of all the “homey” feelings?
Coming from Vietnam, a country where family values are highly regarded, I always feel it must be so. Home is where your family stays, mom’s endearing smile, dad’s solemn face and your brother’s playful eyes. Home, therefore, is the place that gives you the earnest embrace and support regardless of who you are. Home is a word so sacred, carrying a heart-warming feeling whenever it is uttered out of one’s mouth.
And for a girl like me, who spent one year living with her big family while trying to navigate a new environment that was thousands of miles away, the belief of family as a true and only home has even become stronger. Kicking off your university life by online learning for one year was a draining task, both mentally and intellectually, and I might have given up without family’s support. Their selfless love by which I was spoiled nurtures an attachment so intense, so dear, that even fleeting feelings of loss and loneliness came up when I finally could leave home and experience the long-waited student life in Rotterdam.
Now, staying in my room, I reflect on my short settlement in Rotterdam. The new life, of course, brings no feelings like the home I have in Vietnam. This life is marked by youthful adventure and liberty: I meet new people from different cultures, make friends who share my interests and values, learn to take care of myself, explore my possibilities – a constant venture that’s so different from the secure, protected air I breathed within my family’s care.
But this new life in Rotterdam is not only all roses, but is also filled with self-doubt and even alienation. Getting out of the zone of your comfy home and going to a new country , learning new ways of life sometimes make me feel lost and wonder if I could ever fit in. Some mornings, I wake up and feel fearful of the mounting pressure that awaits me – school, career, friendship. But soon, fear is subdued and replaced with the fact that I finally found the parts I want for my adult life in Rotterdam: the motivating atmosphere that encourages me to overcome my limits and find my own identity. In Rotterdam, the multi-diverse city, we can all find the people and places for us to relate to, whether we desire a close-knit community that shares our cultural roots, or a group of diverse people who come together to create positive changes for the world. Rotterdam is a safety net for the uncertainty of adulthood, where I embark on a journey to discover myself without fear of judgment and failure. It is a home that I’m sure the “adult” me feels belonged to; it is a missing part that my adult life can not be complete without.
Therefore, while family is a special place where my loved ones always save the best of them for me, Rotterdam is a city of diverseness that welcomes everyone who wishes to join it. They are my homes, just of different kinds, but both give me a feeling of connection and acceptance in their vicinity.
Author: Tra Mi Nguyen
Editor: Phoebe Elliott
Visuals by: Rea Roitner