Reflections on being far from home
Updated: Nov 5
Why it’s important to find people you can genuinely trust
I remember my first day in Montreal. I thought to myself (among other things), finally, a chance to be back in person and gain independence, far from home.
Then, sometime after my parents – who so aptly helped me move in and get settled – made the trip back home, it hit me. I was a good 7 hours away from home, and I would be here for most of the school year. This was real.
I felt terrified thinking about how to adult, probably because it was the first time in my life that I knew I would be so far from home for so long. Homesickness – yes, the word, the feeling, and everything associated with it – was painful.
That first night, as I unpacked and got acquainted, I remember getting a message from a fellow 2L who offered for us to meet up and explore the city. I pulled out my phone and typed in the address where we were meeting up. Nothing beats the feeling of walking around a city you have never lived in before while using Google Maps’ walking directions. A rollercoaster of sorts.
A few 2Ls met up that day, and I did my best to make sure my introverted self was as lively as possible. As I got acquainted with classmates I had never met before (except through the limiting confines of a Zoom screen), I appreciated how inclusive they were. As an introvert, I often feel like it is (at times) more challenging to make lasting connections. I am a quiet person, and sometimes that results in me feeling excluded. However, I didn’t feel excluded that day with those people. In fact, I felt like people were asking about me and expressing genuine interest in getting to know me for me.
I share this anecdote because I think we often get pressured by some amorphous creature – call it society, the collective, etc. – to subconsciously and deliberately be who we are not, just because we feel like it’ll help us fit in. While I am all for growth and development, I am also for preserving one’s identity and core personality. I am for environments and people who appreciate you for who you are. Stay away from those who constantly ask you to change who you are, at your core, just for them to talk to you or make you feel included. They are not your friends.
I learned a lot about myself that day, including where and with whom I felt most comfortable.
Fast forward to today, and only three weeks have passed since I moved to a new city and new province. I still get homesick from time to time, and meal planning can feel like a chore. Some days are harder than others. But, it’s the people around me – those I know well, and those I am still getting to know – and their small or big actions of kindness and inclusivity that make me feel like I belong. They help me manage my homesickness.
Further, as winter approaches, I think one of the best ways to start to feel at home somewhere is to get into a routine, whatever that means for you. So, whether you are a compulsive organizer or super lax, find the workflow that helps you feel settled.
In all their mundaneness, routines have a way of making any place feel homely, especially a place as charming as Montreal. This, food, and the people that you surround yourself with are what will get us all through this exhilarating ride that we call law school.