Home versus Hometown – Leaving the Nest – by Jemma Provance. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
As a college student spending my first extended time away from home, I can’t help but feel I’m in a sort of limbo where ‘home’ is concerned during the school year. This is appropriate, of course, considering I’m in that learning-to-fly, young adult stage when it’s coming to be time for me to officially leave the nest, summers and all. But it still feels odd when I’m at home for a short break and catch myself planning projects or outings with friends for when I go ‘home,’ meaning the school I’m living at while I take classes. These moments lead me to think about how and why we attach ourselves to places and what attaches us against our will, and which one ‘matters’ more.
Like some from a small town, I don’t especially like the place I was shackled to for the first eighteen years of my life. I consider school spirit a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, and sometimes wonder if my love of mountains and travel stemmed from growing up in a place so flat you can practically stand on your roof and see the next town over. In junior high I compared this little town ten miles south of the Canadian border an hour from the nearest Wal-Mart and three from the nearest mall to a dystopian conservative cornfield, and relished any opportunity for a road trip away from our practically 2-dimensional piece of nowhere.
So that’s why I’ve wished I lived in Duluth since my first tenth grade memory. I remember driving over the hill and seeing the city spread out before me. I spent that choir trip breathing in the biggest small-town in Minnesota. Small enough not to be overwhelming, and yet big enough to have all the things that were previously several hours of driving away. Plus, the best part of college is that there was a castle. Beautiful, historic, cultured, and not thousands of miles away from the family that made my hometown bearable. Because my specific nest, I’m lucky to say, was an uncommonly good one. I have a great relationship with my family, and my house, while old and flawed in many ways, is reasonably sized and has pretty little piece of property, including a handful of little quirks and nooks that undoubtedly identify it as my nest.
So heading to the school that caught my eye partially because of its location is both euphoric and unsettling, particularly when I catch myself referring to it as ‘home.’ In essence, a home is a place to keep all the stuff you can’t carry around with you, like closets, your personal library, and pets. As an aspiring world-traveler, I know that having a “mother-ship” to return to will be very important, since keeping track of seven dogs and cats, a few hedgehogs, several birds and a mini-pig would be difficult on the move. Plus, while I am struck with insatiable wanderlust, I am an incredibly introverted hermit at heart. So when will it be time to dismantle my meticulously decorated, appallingly cluttered bedroom and jump ship? When will returning to this cozy little corner of nowhere feel like visiting, and not returning home?
At nineteen, I’m a teenager and an adult at the same time. There will come several more fuzzy lines before things begin to solidify. Like most adults, while my home will change, I’ll always consider this pancake-y scrap of conservative cornfield my hometown. As for my mother-ship: it may be a job, may be a security deposit, may be my first adopted cat. The bridge is being built, but there’s no reason to cross it yet.
Jemma serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu
See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports
The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu
40 responses to “Home versus Hometown – Leaving the Nest – by Jemma Provance. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports”
Reblogged this on Professor Liang 梁弘明教授.
This is a wonderful article, Jemma, and is a topic that I’ve thought about quite a bit for a little over a year. Moving to college was a tough thing for me to do, specifically because I’m so close with my family that being even the 50 miles away from them made me being away unbearable. As time went on, though, I got so used to calling my apartment and CSS my “home”. I would often refer to CSS as home when talking to my parents and feel a sense of guilt for doing so, as if I were betraying them by moving on. It’s definitely something that I’ll have to get used to, though, considering it is my goal to eventually create a new home abroad.
This is a very wonderfully written article, Jemma. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is amazing to feel that shift from “home” being where you grew up, went to high school, got your first pet, lived with your family, to “home” meaning where you see your college friends, where you landed your first real internship, where you matured as a growing adult. In some instances, I still feel trapped between both worlds. This summer was my first summer spending my time in Duluth 24/7. I visited home only a handful of times, and I worked over 40 hours in Duluth. This summer I felt that shift change dramatically. But, when I look back at what I have left “home” in the cities, it will always be my “home”. That’s where I left my family, my best friends, my pets, my memories. No matter where I go or what changes in my life, “home” is where all those things are. Not necessarily a physical place, but social construct of where I grew from to become who I am. Thank you for your article!
thank you for such and honest and heartfelt article, Jemma. As someone also from a small town I relate very strongly to your struggle with determining your home and your hometown. While I spend majority of my time as school, I still feel guilty if I refer to it as my home in front of my mother. It’s an odd sensation still feeling so at home at my high school home and yet so settled in my college dorm. is it possible to have multiple places you consider to be your “home” at one time, and to value them equally? if so then that is how I feel
I didn’t know you had an article on NSR, so this is a fun find! I would like to begin by saying I appreciate your definition of home, ” a home is a place to keep all the stuff you can’t carry around with you, like closets, your personal library, and pets.” I remember our numerous excited talks about getting out of Roseau, and finding a home that was’t so flat we could see our 1.23 mile apart houses from one another. I continue to wrestle with the idea of home. St. Scholastica has felt like it since we walked onto the stage in the Mitchell our sophomore year, and I think it will continue to feel like home through grad school and beyond. I am interested in knowing how your perspective has changed since this was published. I haven’t spent more than 3-4 days at a time in Roseau probably since I moved out. You have spent a number of breaks in town – how has that influenced your idea of home, if at all?
Reblogged this on The Middle Ground Journal.
I love this article. I have often wondered about the same things as I too am from a small town in Northern Minnesota. Home changes and I now call Duluth my home, especially now that I will be here over the summer, but my hometown will always be a sort of home for me as well. I think that we attach ourselves to places we are drawn to for one reason or another, but we retain attachments from the past as well. Maybe we have to move away from home to see some of the less thought about value in that home. You did a lovely job of describing the transition from one place, one home, to another.
Wonderfully written article, I appreciate all of your personal anecdotes. Although I am not from a small town, Duluth felt like somewhat of a new and exciting place to call home when I moved here 4 short years ago. I’ve often, like you, found myself reminiscing on the word “home” and how I use it interchangeably to refer to the house I grew up, where my parents live, and the various places I have lived in over the years here in Duluth. How incredible that in such a short amount of time, the idea of a home can change, and even a home itself can change. One thing I think we all have in common as humans is our strong sense of identifying a certain place or feeling with home, without a home we feel almost incomplete.
Thanks for sharing, Jemma. I struggle with where ‘home’ is. At first, it was my parents’ house. Then it was sort of CSS. Now I’m in that phase where I’m moving a lot, and I can’t really say which is my home right now. It feels like I am constantly moving my stuff to where I will be living for the majority of the time, not really feeling like a home. I’m excited for the day when I move into a place that I will be living in for more than just a few months. While traveling is fun and makes up the major part of my bucket list, I still enjoy coming home to my own bed, where ever that may be. Anyway, great piece of work, Jemma, and thanks for sharing!
Thank you for sharing this Jemma. I think it may be safe to say that home comes in many different forms. A home can be a set of people or a physical location, no? Perhaps a person can have multiple homes. For example, I consider Scholastica one of my homes, but I also consider the CSS theatre to be a home for me as well. In this case, I suppose I have a home within a home. Perhaps something interesting to consider, that I am going to attempt to pin-down myself, is what exactly makes something (person, place, action, art, idea, etc) “home?”
This was a beautiful article as it reminded me what locations and people I call home. As much as I love my home in the Twin Cities and family, I often stumble upon myself calling CSS “home” also. Over spring break , I took the chance to participate in a service trip in Kentucky. I had a fantastic time but also wanted to come back really bad the last few days. I missed my bed, the internet, and long showers! I felt guilty as I kept calling CSS “home”. On the bright side, I have now called it the closest place to home for it holds many photos, objects and vibes sent from my home in the cities. Thank you for sharing!
Jemma, this was a very relatable article! I am also from a small town that is very flat. The only two natural landmarks that make my area of southwestern Minnesota not flat are the lake right across the street from my house and what we call “The River Bottom”, which river, I do not know. During my middle school and early high school years the only thing I could dream about was getting out of my small town. However, during my tenth grade year, I discovered what a diamond in the rough my little town was. I love the people, I love the farming, and I love that I can walk across the street and have my own private beach! Though I know that I, too, will have to leave my family home to make my own, I have no doubt in my mind that I will also return to a small town, be it my hometown or a different one.
I enjoyed the meaning behind this article and I think this is something that we all go through at some point in life. The ending of the article was my favorite part. Talking about crossing a bridge in life is a piece of life that we all have to go through, even if it is not related to home. The other part I liked about the ending was the fact that you did not list home as only a place, but also things that are of attachment to you.
Everyone eventually comes across the time in their life when its time to leave their nest. We go off to college and are away from home or for some live at home. We also will leave our parents house and live on our own with someone and it’s weird to think that we live with our parents for about 18 -20 years then all of a sudden we are living on our own with a partner. To whom we will spend forever with and we only spend a little but bit of our time living at home under our parents roof. Thanks for sharing Jemma.
I enjoy how you looked at the aspects of a home and the different kind of homes. A hometown is something every single person has. Some choose to leave it in the dust, and other people think back fondly of their hometown. Although people develop a different opinion, most people do recognize their hometown as significant. We as humans cannot help but think of the numerous memories we made in the beginning of our lives. Homes are definitely something that can change actual location. I think homes are sometimes about the people that we spend our time with. Those special people make any location seem like the right one.
This is such a neat topic to write about and I think that it is easily relatable. As a college student three hours away from my hometown, I find myself having two different places that I call home during the school year. I think that this idea of what home is to people varies from person to person and from culture to culture. I think that it has a lot to do with what we value in our lives, our personal rituals, and how we define home. In my own life, I define home as a place where my personal belongings are, but also where the people I care about live. This defines both my home away from home in Duluth, and my hometown home. I know that this could change from culture to culture and that other people even in my own school could feel this differently. It is so cool to hear about other peoples norms and rituals.
I found this article quite intriguing as I am from the Twin Ports. I never saw Duluth with awe described by the author, nor did I have a desire to leave my hometown. Part of my decision to stay in my hometown was the practicality of not having to move far – clearly not possible in a small town. I’m curious about other reasons why so many students choose to leave their small hometowns. Clearly many towns don’t offer the educational opportunities of Duluth, but I wonder what causes the bitterness expressed by the author. Whenever I visit my relatives, who live in a small Minnesotan town, I find the quietness and atmosphere to be relaxing.
What a nice post you have about your home town and how you decided you wanted to be in Duluth. I can relate to the part where you talk about driving pass Duluth and know right then that it was where you wanted to be. I too had the same feeling when I came to visit Duluth. Right before my freshman year of college started, I came for a visit and as we entered and had an over look of Duluth, I was amazed at how beautiful it looked. It was spectacular. I don’t think I will ever get tired of the lake view. I love how you describe your home being somewhere where you leave the things you can’t carry everywhere you go. It made me think and I agree. That is a very cute description of it and a simpler one. It also made me think about how everyone in the world has a home; humans, animals, trees, lakes…etc. It’s kind of a random thought but again, I thought it was interesting if you thought deeper.
Thanks for sharing!!!
Jemma, thank you for sharing your hometown experience and comparing it to St. Scholastica and the city of Duluth. I think your testimony goes to show that although we move on in our lives, we keep with us a part of our past. Whether this be memories or physical objects. I am currently sitting at my desk in my suite at St. Scholastica, and around me I have photos of my family and friends from back home. These people in our past never escape us and it is a great experience when we return to our nest, catch up with old friends, and share the new experiences we have had at college. To be able to continue these relationships is a wonderful thing, and I find it disheartening when some of these relationships dwindle.
I really enjoyed reading this article because the concept of home is something me and my room mates have talked about recently. When i am at school in Duluth and i say home I’m referring to my hometown but once i go back home i always end up calling Duluth my home. Being a college student is a very interesting aspect in that sense that you really aren’t at a permanent home and going back home feels a little bit more like being home and not just visiting. I believe that once you find a job and plant your self at somewhere for a long term plan, going back to your hometown will feel more like just visiting. Also because not all your friends will still be going home at the same time or living at home still so there will be less of a sense that home is still the same. I really enjoy both of the places that I have been able to live so far and they both are for different reasons, each place I believe that people live is unique to that person.
I completely understand how you are feeling right now about ‘home’ and what feels like home but is more like school. I often catch myself calling both places home, but if I ask my self knowingly then I want to be sure to only call my parents house my home. I live in a very very small town and I feel so much more comfortable here than I do at school even though I love school so very much. I only see it as a part time place to stay so I do not wish to call it home.
I think that one of the most interesting things about this article is the uncertainty and “limbo” phase you talk about. Especially because I think a lot of college students that aren’t commuters feel the exact same thing. However, that limbo, coupled with your willingness to take things one step at a time, makes for a pretty interesting experience that is spent in the moment. We have talked about the future in my history class, and how people have rituals and other traditions to try to ease the anxiety about the future’s unpredictability. I know a lot of people pick this school because they fell in love with Duluth (and the castle). I have always lived in the Twin Ports, and while I imagined going to a school far, far away, I decided not to because this is where my heart was. But, like you, I know this may or may not be my forever home, and I am okay with taking things one day at a time.
This is an amazing read. Although this is very well written, it is extremely hard for me to relate to. I to came from a small town, but I am in love with where I grew up, and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I love small towns, because I love the unity it forms in the town. I think where you grow up defines you, and is a great reason you become who you are. I wouldn’t want to trade my hometown experience for anything.
When a student leaves their hometown for college for the first time, it can be a major life adjustment. They are growing up and most of the time growing up means that they are forced to make a change. This change usually requires building a bridge that one day they will be able to walk over. I too am from a small town and even though Duluth may have a mall within walking distance, I would pick the two hour drive from my house to the mall any day. My hometown is a part of me. It is where I grew up and learned all that I know today. So, no matter how far life takes me from home, it will always be home when I return. Even when I can no longer call it my home, it will still carry all of the memories from my childhood and that is what I believe makes it a true home and distinguishes it from my college home.
Thank you Jenna! I have the same issue. I often don’t know which house of mine to call ‘home’, so I have started to being to call them ‘my parents house’ and ‘my house’. Which is strange because of the limbo that you talked about all of us being in. I have decided that I want a tattoo of each of the coordinates of the places that I have lived in, but am struggling with placement of it after worrying about how long it might get! Thanks for sharing! Cheers!
The fact that you mentioned you tried to find out how we get attached to these places without our own free will reminds me of every time I get in my car and my map alerts me of home which is marked Scholastica campus. This the same case when I go home to my parents in the cities, which it marks as a frequent location. Although you state that a home is a place where the things you can’t carry would be located, I’d like to add that it can be a place that you always have in your mind as a mother ship. I say that because I have been in the United States for 8 years, but I still reference Nigeria, which is where I am from as back home. I have family there and I hope to reconnect with them someday so they will always have a place in my mind.
Thank you for sharing your hometown story, Jemma! I too come from a small town and choosing Duluth to go to school in and call a second home was quite a stretch. There are things we want to get away from, but we soon find ourselves wanting those things back. I hope you have made the best of a new place and will always enjoy going back home. Although small towns never seem to be much, they truly do mean a lot and are contain meaningful memories and people. As you travel in your lifetime, remember those things you learn about other places and you can compare them to back home. That is the place you will always find yourself comparing because it is what you have in your blood. You will never forget your hometown! Keep on striving to open your mind to other places in the world, but remember your roots.
Thank you for sharing! I really liked this article. I really liked how you ended your article. It is so true that being in the age range of 18-20 you are still considered a child but are given the responsibilities of an adult. I have grown up in Duluth all of my life and I agree it is the perfect size city for everyone it isn’t as big as St. Paul or Minneapolis and it isn’t as small compared to Two Harbors. When it comes to the time that I will end up moving away from Duluth I will still always call it home. A part of me will always be with Duluth and Duluth will always be apart of me. Great Article!
This article relates to me, and I’m sure many other college students, on a whole other level. I really enjoy this article. It is so interesting that two completely different places can seem like home to a person. I am from a suburb of the cities so coming to Duluth, it really did not seem like too much of a change to me. However, the one thing I have noticed is that although the town seems like a “mini-city”, it really is just another small town. Those who grow up here know everyone else who has grown up here. Growing up in the suburbs I had everything I needed in a mile radius from my home, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an hour away from the closest Walmart. Thank you for sharing something that hits close to home for many readers.
Hi Jemma, I think you touched on a topic that many fellow college students can relate to. It’s important to talk about this, because it shows the different stages you go through during your years as a college student. I can relate to your small town experience, and I remember that I had a burning desire to sprint, rather than walk out of the gymnasium after high school graduation. Since you feel like you are in this sort of ‘limbo’ phase in your life, I hope that you begin to find your passions while in college. I also think that since you are aware of the upcoming phases you will go through in terms of seeing a change in what you consider ‘home’, I would like to argue that more than one place can be your ‘home’. Great piece!
I often catch myself saying home, referring to school in Duluth. It feels more like home to me. When I go home, it feels so weird to me because while my life has been constantly changing (moving to Duluth, going to school, meeting new people, doing new things, etc.) my family and my home stays exactly the same. Sure, there may be a few things that are new in their lives, but it is just so strange to see that drastic change in just a short year. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one that feels that way, thanks for sharing Jemma.
You have really just put all of my thoughts into words! I’m also from a very small town in North Eastern Wisconsin, were we are basically considered a “drive by” town. I’ve known from the beginning of high school that I was going to go to school in Duluth. It’s larger than my hometown while not being overwhelmingly so-much like you said! I often catch myself referring to home as being at school and when I’m at school I consider home to be my hometown. It’s weird, because where really is home then? In the end, I know my career aspirations will take me much farther away from both places I consider home now, but I think both Duluth and my hometown will always be a kind of home to me. It sometimes makes me sad to think that my hometown will feel like just a place I’m visiting and not “going home” to, but I suppose that is part of growing up.
I can definitely relate to this type of article. Being away from home for so long, the small things I miss feel a lot bigger now. I guess it is difficult to really define where your home is. If I say home it is normally where I spend each night but they way you expressed it makes me think. Even though it is my parents house back in England, it is where I grew up. I would probably refer to Duluth as my home to.
Thank you for sharing this experience and your thoughts. I often think about my hometown and how living there has impacted my thought and beliefs. I also wish I had been able to live in Duluth when I was younger. Duluth has so much to offer. I miss my home and the small things I used to take for granted there. I am happy you have found your way into Duluth and found a home away from home!
Hi Jemma, thank you for sharing your personal experience with us. I am from Canada and the city I live in will always be my home.I love Minnesota and am planning on staying here when I graduate but where I grew up will always be my home. It is crazy to think about how quickly somewhere else becomes your comfort zone without you even knowing it.
This article was really heartwarming to read of comparing your previous home to Duluth and how the definition of it changes. Personally, I came from a small town in central Minnesota where bars made up most of the town and the landscape was very flat. Growing up, I never felt at home in Stacy but I always felt more at home up north especially visiting Duluth. As a teenager I spent the summers with my grandparents up in Two Harbors and I always felt more happier. My love for northern Minnesota and Duluth inspired me to go to the College of St. Scholastica and now Duluth feels more like my home. The idea of home will change throughout my life but Duluth has allowed me to grow as a individual.
Jemma, your article was very relatable. My hometown resides only a few hours south of the Canadian boarder. Just like you, I hated it the first 18 years. The town was so boring and I felt I was missing out on fun things. Once I started college I was in the Twin Cities but hated my college so I transferred to CSS. Soon, I realized how I took Duluth for granted. The idea of ‘where is home?’ is either complex or easy. It all depends on where you feel it most. Thank you Jemma.
In my college years I have thought about where my home truly is often. Freshmen year I thought that Duluth was my home away from my actual home of Mora. However, unlike your experience I never went home for any of my summers. Instead I stayed in Duluth, therefore I have grown to think of Duluth as my new home. Over time I think our definition of home changes, but a place never stop being a home to us. Duluth is my home but Mora will also always be my home. Thank you for the great post!
Another very thoughtful article. I’ve thought a lot about what “home” means to me over the past several months. I went back to my hometown my first summer of college, but spent the last two in Duluth. I’ve definitely become attached to the city, but being that I’ve lived in six different apartments (not counting my time abroad) since my freshman year, the “homey” feeling just isn’t there yet.
One thing that began to shift my thinking this summer was that I moved in with my boyfriend. We upgraded the phrasing to “our home,” which was really weird at first. With this move, I finally moved most of my stuff with me, like you mentioned: my bed, dresser, desk – more permanent fixings of what made my bedroom my “home.”
Going back to my hometown with my bedroom being dissembled shifted my idea of home more than I thought it would. I’ve been noticing myself call it “my parent’s house” more and more.
Ultimately, Duluth feels like home when my friends and support system are here, and St. Martin/Albany feels like home when my family is there. It’s ultimately up to us what home is, and at least in my experience, it’s more so the people than the place.
This piece is very thorough, for you clearly state what home is to you and how that has shifted thorough out. Recently, I have been thinking about home due to the exploration of this idea in one of my classes. I believe this is one of the first time that I truly have the time to analyze what home means to me and how that looks like. In my analyzation, I may have concluded that home should be a place where one feels safe, where one can truly be themselves despite the challenges and not worrying about how ‘odd’ you are. Considering that definition I believe home is simply not an about a place but rather about a feeling(s). Although this can also be about the feelings that one gets at a particular setting. Thank you for sharing, your ideas will stay with me as I revise my definition of home.