Home can be found in many places. It’s different for everyone. Over the past few years I have been lucky enough to find “home” all across the globe. Before I came to Naz, I found my home in Johnstown, PA, Atlanta, GA, West Chester, PA and many other places throughout Europe and Canada. When I think of home, I think of family and loved ones, but now that I am so far away from my home and family in Australia, I have learned to adapt and improvise, and my definition of home has evolved. Many people say that “home is where the heart is,” and I believe that to an extent, but what I truly think is that the people you spend your time with determine where you will feel most at home. The people you surround yourself with, influence your experience and empower you with the ability to find “home” wherever you go. That can be interpreted in many different ways, so let me elaborate…
I am so lucky in my life to have found ice hockey, a sport that I love with a passion and that takes me all over the world with some of my best friends. I have formed so many lifelong friendships with people from all corners of the globe: Sweden, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Iceland, Germany, and of course, America. Hockey is a sport where friendships as thick as blood are formed and bonds are never broken. A hockey team becomes a brotherhood and, ultimately, an extended family. I still keep in touch with my teammates from my first international team back in 2009, and I was looking for something similar in a college. I wanted to go to a place that I would miss when I was gone and I wanted to be around people that I would want to stay in touch with and catch up whenever possible. This is why I chose Nazareth College.
Here at Nazareth, I feel at home. Our campus is small enough to feel comfortable and connected, but also big enough to escape for a minute and have some time to yourself. There’s always activities and fun events going on throughout the school, but I think that I get a sense of home here because of the small things; the friendly “good morning” I get from the ladies at the dining hall, the awesome meals made for me by the workers in the CAB, or the “how are ya” from the janitor cleaning the bathroom in my dorm at 6am. All these small things from the incredible characters here on campus have given me a strong feeling of belonging and sense of connection to the school – and I’ve only just completed my first semester.
My professors are also awesome and always willing to help, whether it is extending their office hours, holding out of class review sessions, or just simply replying quickly to a last minute email. Being from Australia doesn’t really help when it comes to understanding some things in math class like ounces, gallons, inches, and all those other metric system terms. Then there’s English, where it is all about understanding new concepts and fighting my Australian spelling habits, like the “u” in “mourning” or “colour,” or words like “organise” and “aluminium.” Despite all this, my professors go the extra mile and help me out as much as they can by being understanding of my background, and, rather than getting angry or frustrated, they always have a smile on their face when I say something funny. This has been a huge factor in my success and dedication to class and study. Not only does it ease my mind to have honest, trustworthy, and understanding professors, but it helps make my parents feel more comfortable knowing that I am doing well and enjoying the process. A sense of comfort, satisfaction, happiness, joy, and pride go hand-in-hand with “home.” Despite being so far away from home and always on the move, I have never been homesick, or felt like I’m am missing out on something because I am always having the time of my life with the people around me. That’s not to say that I don’t miss home or that I am happy all the time, of course. Everybody has their ups and downs, but it’s the people I enjoy my “ups” with that also help get me through my “downs” that are truly what make me feel at home wherever I go. Now I am doing great in school and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it here at Naz and I think it is a great place for international and out of state students. In this friendly environment with cultural diversity and great people I have found another home.