For me, “home” has always been a place where I feel like I belong. This is my first time building a life for myself from scratch, and I thought a lot about the idea of belonging before I left and when I first arrived. It seemed a daunting task to make friends, find hobbies, join clubs (“societies” here), figure out what to eat and where to study, while also simultaneously not failing all my courses.
There are hundreds of societies at the University of Edinburgh, from athletics and choirs, to academic cohorts and groups of enthusiasts (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, wine, video games, etc.). Rather than over-committing and signing up for all the ones that sounded vaguely interesting, I chose a select few that reminded me of the activities I enjoy in Vancouver.
In carving out these communities for myself, I hoped to ease the transition from one home to another, but I didn’t expect to feel a sense of belonging so quickly. I’ve had so many moments of clarity and I already know that it’s going to be really hard to leave Edinburgh in December.
Being here has taught me that it’s possible to feel like an outsider who still somehow belongs. When I talk to friends and family in Vancouver, I miss my life there, but the pangs of homesickness don’t devalue the amazing experiences I’m having here. I no longer feel like a pin on a map, placed here at random — rather, I feel like I’m in the centre of a Venn diagram where one side is Edinburgh and the other is Vancouver.
I know I’m at home when the girls in my Brownie unit want to hold my hand during circle time, when new friends and I take advantage of travel opportunities, when I bake with my flatmates, when my a cappella group nails a piece I arranged and when I finish a great yoga class.
Meeting like-minded people through yoga, a cappella, choir, university courses and Girl Guides has convinced me that there will be like-minded people anywhere I go — I just have to have the guts to seek them out.