by: Aditi Gupta

The longing to go home and meet loved ones persists in the hearts of most students living far away. As the semester ends, I grind through my final exams and wait until I get on a flight to Mumbai, India (about 12,480 km away from Trinity College). On my way back, I squirm in my seat, unable to sleep from the sound of crying babies. So, instead, I think to myself, “Let’s make this trip into content.” 

Here’s presenting the good, the bad, and the ugly of an international student’s return home.

The Good

Upon arrival, I spot my parents waiting for me with the brightest smiles on their faces. Kiara, my tiny indie, greets me at the door, her tail perked and wagging. I smell the delectable aroma of biriyani wafting through the air. For the next three days, I can do no wrong in my parents’ eyes. I could shatter my mom’s favourite china, and she would smile and say, “It’s okay.” I could spill my food on our white floral sofa, and my father would laugh about it. However, the best part is the sleep. More specifically, the guilt-free sleep in my own bed. I don’t wake up every four hours wondering if anything’s due, if I missed an exam, or if I’m somehow failing a course. Or perhaps the best part is walking into the shower without stepping on a drain clogged with eight different people’s hair. Or waking up in the morning without the fear of finding spiders dangling over my face. Or reuniting with my closest friends from high school and reminiscing about the “good old days” like a gang of sixty-year-olds. Or is it actually my chaotic family dinners? Where everyone—distant aunts, cousins thrice-removed, Kiara—huddles around a table so large we can barely hear the person sitting across from us. 

The Bad

Eventually, I get a wake-up call. Literally. My parents realize that I’ve been sleeping until noon everyday, not because I’m chronically sleep-deprived but because I’m just lazy. Then come the lectures about my “unnatural” habits and my irregular lifestyle. I find myself desperately searching for activities to keep me occupied because it’s true: the sudden unproductivity feels out of place and leaves me bored and almost anticipating schoolwork again. Being away from campus for so long also makes me appreciate the freedom I had in university. I could keep the lights on until ungodly hours, fall asleep in jeans, and get away with it. However, at home, my parents pay attention to everything I do. Ironically, their microscopic attention is something I crave in university and dread at home. After a long day of classes, a thirty-minute-long call with my parents helps me tap out of uni stress and reminds me to change my jeans before I sleep.

The Ugly

Despite all that talk about looking forward to school reopening, the last few days of winter break are nothing if not ugly. When I was a kid, my parents and I often went on trips to explore our country and the wider world beyond it. I remember seeing students at the airports on their way to universities, some chattering away excitedly and some groaning with anxiety. Now, I am that student. Every visit to the airport is accompanied by a symphony of bittersweet notes. As enthusiastic as I am to be a part of a world bigger than myself, I can’t help but feel a lump in my throat while leaving my loved ones behind. This time around, it’s especially difficult. I howl incessantly at the airport, each tear carrying the weight of a thousand unspoken words. My dad gives me a tight hug and reminds me that sacrificing familiarity and comfort to tread a new path would make me soar to unimaginable heights, and I hold onto him tighter. With his encouragement echoing in my head and a boatload of luggage strangling my hands, I leave for university. 

Until next time, Home.

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