What Makes a Home?

I wouldn’t consider myself a truly brave person.

The fact that I’m writing this from my current home in Ireland sometimes seems merely a cosmological anomaly arising from a mixture of luck, fate, determination, and a lot of fear.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that many of my life choices arise from self-preservation or total fright. I moved out of state for university – 8 hours away by car – when I had received a generous offer from the university in my home city, a rising institution.

But wow, Ellie, you moved far away from home where you knew absolutely no one – how brave!

I firmly disagree. I moved away for a lot of reasons, some strange and difficult to explain. My whole life, I’ve had this ache in my mind telling me that things could be much better somehow. I often feel simultaneously starved for more excitement or adventure and totally weary of looking for it. And for whatever reason, I seem to think that starting over somewhere completely new will somehow fix any problems I have with myself; that a new set of coordinates would mean a new and better life.

The same thought occurred when I realized I could study abroad. A new set of coordinates – 8 hours away by plane – would mean a new and better life.

I really had no clear plan when I chose Ireland. It was beautiful. It was different, but it was close enough to familiarity to make the move pretty easy – same language, same foods. I was going to take ‘fun’ classes and essentially take a break from reality for a little long while.

Everything changed over the summer. I had committed; it was real.

The decision I had been anxiously contemplating for months was finally made. I switched my academic concentration to computer science and didn’t look back.

I packed my bags with purpose. This wasn’t going to be a vacation, or a false new start. This was my chance to not to abandon real life but to actually better myself, to enrich my learning in a new field and in a new academic institution and culture.

Since coming here, I’ve made amazing friends, seen amazing sights, learned amazing things, and been amazed at life: its intricacies, its coincidences, its surprises. Ireland is beginning to feel like a second home to me now, not a touristic location to visit and then abandon to live forever in snapshots on Instagram.

The future that was previously a hazy blur (much like the present when I’m not wearing glasses) is starting to take form right before my eyes. The path forward seems a little less rocky now that I’ve gained some valuable perspective from being forced to become more independent than ever.

This time away has been important – and it’s not near over yet – but it’ll be nice to go home for Christmas. Thanksgiving’s rapid approach has given me pause to count my blessings and appreciate all I have, as well as all I’m missing terribly. Autumn has brought with it many lessons, all speeding past me in a moment.

All I need now is to fly back to Texas and muse about all the unexpected beautiful moments with my loving family in our home with a warm mug of mom’s hot chocolate.


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