I’ve lived in many places, and Arcadia University is the only place that’s felt like home to me. Due to a taxing home situation, I’ve had to move in and out of dozens of apartments, houses, spare bedrooms, and have slept on more than a few couches throughout my life. The instability has led to deep insecurity and me believing I could never settle down in one place because I didn’t know when I would have to leave.
Now, I have a place to call home for four blissful years.
Only, how could I truly make Arcadia my new home? Having a new home isn’t just about living in a dorm room for long stretches of time, especially since we (usually) switch dorm rooms and apartments every year. Being here also means learning about my new community and immersing myself in campus culture. When I came to Arcadia, that was my mission, even above my should-be primary goal of earning excellent grades.
The first step of creating my new home was making my new domicile, my dorm room, feel cozy. To prepare for college, I scoured Pinterest for months, trying to find décor ideas and figure out how to transform a 10’ x 14’ room, only half of which was mine, into a tiny home. I’ve never really decorated my personal space, because I was afraid that if I got attached, I’d just have to leave and take down what I worked hard to create. But now, unless there’s an extreme circumstance, I can’t be forced to leave.
So I hung lantern-like string lights above my bed to represent my bright hopes for the future. I used a turquoise and lime-green color scheme for nearly everything I brought into my dorm, from my bedspread to my towel set. At the annual campus-wide poster sale, I scoured the aisles until I found two posters from my favorite bands to tape to the walls. Between the posters is a photo collage of whom I miss from home. I wouldn’t call myself a master interior designer, but I’ve now created a small haven for myself within the stone walls of the university.
I stroll along that stone wall, and many more places on campus, during my Sunday-afternoon outings. Whenever I move to a new place, I take a daily or weekly walk around the neighborhood to get to know it. Here at Arcadia, however, these outings aren’t just about exploring a new place—they’re about enjoying the scenery and soaking up the beauty on campus as much as possible. Every Sunday, I look around in wonder, staring at the world flags dotting the paths that represent where my fellow students have traveled, the labyrinths of sidewalks leading to new and fascinating locations, and the touches of nature found in the bevy of trees, sparkling pond, and freshly cut grass.
But home isn’t just about physical location. It’s about the people who surround you and make you feel part of a community. I knew that in order to make Arcadia into my new neighborhood, I had to engage with others and step out of my introverted shell. I threw myself headfirst into campus activities, joining Enthymion, Because Arcadia, PRIDE, and the AU Lead program within weeks of arriving on campus. Through these activities, I’ve met so many people who are now my friends and neighbors.
Arcadia is a beautiful place to live, and is the perfect setting for my second chance at life. I am grateful for the opportunity to make my mark here, and look forward to settling in and staying a while.