By: Andrew Koerner – Fifth Year, Mechanical Engineering
Welcome home Flyers! And to all of the first-years who just set foot on campus, welcome to college! I hope and pray that you may grow to love this university as deeply as so many of us upperclassmen have.
First-years, you may already feel at home; many are blessed to claim that UD has felt like home since day one. I am not one of those people. As a local Daytonian, I struggled to understand why this place didn’t feel like home for the longest time. That being said, I am very grateful for experiencing this struggle because it allowed me to come to a deeper understanding of community as well as what a home is in general.
When I lived in Marycrest four years ago, I was strongly attached to a group of high school friends and practically every second of my free time was spent with them. Some of them lived in different residence halls; others were at different universities all together. I love them to death, but the amount of time I spent with them took away many of the opportunities I had to bond with the other residents of my floor and I scarcely welcomed new people into my life. The same thing happened my sophomore year when I lived in VWK. When you spend all of your time away from where you sleep how can you expect to call that place your home?
Home is much more than a place where you sleep. My greatest experiences at UD have stemmed from my work as a resident assistant in Stuart Hall. Stuart was the first place on campus I called home and it happened when I was a junior. I started spending time not only with my residents but with the other RAs in the building. We shared a mission in building community and looking out for each other. These people became my family and it was not uncommon to see each other walking between classes and saying “see you at home!” A year later when we all lived on different parts of campus I visited them frequently and I was struck by how these places started to feel like home too.
Now as a fifth year senior with a culmination of amazing experiences and friendships I am certain that our idea of home is one that evolves. Home isn’t necessarily a place; home is a state of mind. We talk of UD being more than just a school; we call it home. I challenge you to come back to campus in 15 years by yourself when the trees are taller, the buildings are newer and the new logo is solidified into the culture. Will UD still feel like home? Maybe to a certain extent, but my feelings tell me it won’t. Why? Because the people you shared your time with aren’t there anymore.
But consider this! I do believe that UD is a very special place and that a member of the student body will warmly welcome alumni back to campus. One winter when I lived in Stuart, I escorted three ’06 alumni to the floor they lived on when they were freshmen and although the floor was a barren wasteland, they were so grateful to see it again and reminisce with each other.
So first years, I urge you to embrace the time you have here with urgency. If you’re feeling homesick or struggling to make a new home at UD think of it this way. It’s natural; you haven’t made any lasting memories yet.
It’s our memories that attach us to a place. It was the memories that made those ’06 alumni feel at home on an empty floor sixyears later. And these memories will stay with you and the friends you’ve made wherever you go in the future. Now home for me is in the moments spent with those I love. Home is now as simple to feel as talking to an old co-worker on Skype or Google Hangouts.