It’s a phrase most people have heard before: “a house is not a home.” I have to say that I could not agree more with this. To me, a home is a special place that you can always come back to, a place that remains timeless in your heart, and a place that’s filled with love. Indeed, I call Cleveland my home because it’s where I spent eighteen years growing up, changing, and preparing myself for the next chapter of my life at college. However, Athens has grown very near and dear to my heart since I came to Ohio University two summers ago. Like several students, I refer to Athens as “home”—and it’s neither by mistake, nor due to the fact that it’s where I live for the majority of the year.
For the first few months or so of my freshman year, my comfort zones on campus were definitely narrowed down to a few places, especially James Hall (the dorm I lived in). It wasn’t until I met friends within my learning community when I started to gradually spend time in other campus hot spots. Adjusting to this new place had been so much easier with my peers in the same boat as me. Soon, I learned to appreciate campus, rather than fear it. The breathtaking view of Cutler Hall on College Green? Only Bobcats can understand its significance. Taking a stroll down Court Street, even on a rainy day? I never guessed I would miss something that simple while I was on winter break.
Aside from the scenic examples, no home is complete without the people who fill it with love. For example, I have formed unique bonds with professors who are now references on my internship cover letters; they helped instill in me a passion for journalism. Furthermore, I have become friends with countless faces from the dorms, campus organizations, classes and Greek Life. I even admire the locals for never failing to extend that warm Southern Ohio hospitality, whether it’s the hairdresser at the salon or a cashier at Kroger.
To me, when leaving Athens for an extended period becomes more difficult each time, I like to think it is a blessing in disguise. The Bobcat Family who belongs to Ohio University may lead their individual lives elsewhere in this world, but when we come together, it’s as if we never left Athens in the first place. Why else is “HOUmecoming” a bigger event each year than the one before? Why else do seniors want to avoid the “g” word (graduation) like the plague?
Now as an older and wiser Ohio University Bobcat, I no longer apologize when I refer to Athens as “home.” Generally speaking, I mostly apologize for the mistakes I make, but that is definitely not one of them. I chose to become a part of this place… on purpose… without a single regret.