Meaning of “Home”
Each one of us has the place which brings back good memories, is the symbol of comfort and wellness, revokes memories related to music, objects, colors, people, and dishes. This place is called home. It is kept in our memories as an ideal one, even if it is not so perfect. Home serves as a kind of fortress to us, our freedom and deeds. The word home is a many faceted word that combines different concepts. Home is culture, religion, the place where you live, friends, relatives, neighbors, cuisine, personal objects and environment. Home should be the place where you feel secure, free and in the state of wellness and physical well-being. It is often associated with parents, siblings, warmth and comfort. However, international students do suffer a lot from this psychological sickness, and so when they lose at least one of these components they feel homesick and start to understand the meaning of the word “Home.”
Home is considered as a place where you were brought up, which is related to the childhood memories, toys, favorite dishes, and traditions. Sometimes it happens for those international students while in the middle of the school day they have an unrestrained desire to go home. They close their eyes and see unforgettable masterpieces – a kitchen, a cozy bed room, a living room, a bathroom, or soft carpet under the feet. It is related to their best memories, family, relatives, and history. Generally, these images are the houses of our grandparents or parents. In these spaces the family gathers and has a wonderful time together. This place brings back warm memories about the childhood and family holidays. Even music and flavors may make you think about this kind of home. These are the things that any person may miss when he is away from home for educational reasons. In fact, close relations to home cause the feeling of homesickness. In order to find an academic opportunity abroad international students leave their homes, families, and friend. Being in a different country they grieve for the places, objects, people, buildings, social networks and culture. In spite of modern technologies which give people ability to speak to their relatives, this feeling is very common for international students who constitute a special group of students all over the globe. It may affect the person’s behavior and mental well-being.
Those students often miss every single object at their home. And that is why home is a varied and rich union of family and personal objects. Some people evaluate objects found at home (Csikszentmihalyi 52). Very often a guest cannot notice special elements of design which were developed by one of the family members, furniture or decoration, made by somebody of the relatives, pictures or valuable for heart things which are passed from generation to generation. Individuals exhibit very strong connections and relations to personal mementos. Even rooms, whether it is a kitchen or living room, is one of the mementos which bring their memories back. In this way, Home may express different aspects of our past. It is the place directly connected with our biography, as here we had physical and special representation (Brahm 152).
In addition, it is the place where you live, the building, its design inside and outside. It is the place where we live, keep our properties, have a rest, receive guests, spend leisure, eat, drink, and watch TV etc. You come home after a hard day, take a bath, lie on the sofa and do anything you want, you have freedom of actions. Such a house or an apartment may have a link to your past at the same time being a door to the future. In such a house you feel comfortable; you come back to the house willingly and with great desire. For someone it may be a huge cottage, or a house at the seaside, for others a tiny one room flat with a kitchen. The size of your home does not mean anything. The things inside it mean all. It should be associated with physical state in which we feel mentally relaxed.
As for international students home may convey the meaning of geographical location, for example a city, town, or country. The country is usually associated with traditions, which seem significant when you leave you native country to study abroad. It is the way people live, the way they speak, architecture, design of houses, national music and many other things. As an example may be taken an Arabian Gulf house, with its special atmosphere; they are different from American ones by their cultural peculiarities, design, colors and unique styles. As it is a continent of cultures, world famous histories, and a mixture of customs and traditions represent it, and it is really difficult to find a place overseas where you may feel as comfortable and relaxed as there. Houses of the Arabian Gulf countries are typically stucco or stone, the lines are simple, furniture is lavish, and you may see a variety of ornamental rugs.
Furthermore, Arabian Gulf cuisine is rich on a variety of spices. Walking along the street you will definitely smell their fragrant flavor. All there characteristic features of the Arabian Gulf make a distinct understanding of what home is, when referred to as a location. When we are in a foreign country, we have an opportunity to contrast and to compare everything we encounter in the streets, in behavior of people, traditions, culture, and the way life is percepted. Then we start to find positive features in our native country and realize that there are almost no disadvantages as everything is so familiar, close to heart, and friendly, rich on traditions which seem so close, interesting, and old and worth following. The memories, which arise when we think about our country as a home, become related to the house itself, a building where we grew up and that is when the feeling of homesick begins.
In this case, there are several reasons of being homesick and culture shock is one of them. International students, especially those who do not understand the language well, and who come from countries with considerably different cultural backgrounds, have troubles adjusting to the surrounding environment. The greater the differences between the host culture and the native culture, the stronger feeling of homesickness will the student experience. Culture shock causes desire for family and familiar environment. The second reason is time difference which sometimes makes communication with relatives almost impossible. They start feeling lonely expect the cases when they can make friends easily. Language is considered to be the third reason of homesickness. Sometimes international students do not speak perfectly, do not understand the professor, and cannot express their ideas. These factors may cause a great trouble for any international student.
As a result, the effects include sadness, loneliness, sleeping problems, headaches, anxiety, isolation, and difficulties at the university or college. Unfortunately the feeling of homesickness is long lasting and may lead to social alienation (Hendrickson 285). According to some studies, students who study far away from their houses experience the feeling of homesickness more often than those who study close to their parents (Poyrazli 264). Those who feel homesick often have poor progress in studying, get lower scores, and are more often depressed in comparison to students who are not homesick (Poyrazli 264).
Thus, home is a word which embraces and has very vast meaning. It reflects our values and beliefs that are usually associated with the childhood which is always deep in our memories. If anything reminds us about any aspect of beliefs or values which were followed by the family, no doubt that you will immediately think about home. In this context home is defined by neighborhood and ethnicity. Home is a place of memories, with certain design, traditions, technology which support our memories. It is also a place for practical and social activities; it is the place of individual and collective accumulation of memories. In many cases people start appreciating home after moving out, changing the place of living or losing relatives. Only after it the person begins to realize how deep the meaning of the word is, how important it is to keep relation to our home, maintain friendly, positive and favorable atmosphere within it. In this case the proverb “East or West home is best” is really truthful. A home holds our family and cultural heritage, history of whole generations, reflects acceptance and limitless warmth. Being a form of love, it is associated with a tree which has deep roots. You feel at home, you feel comfortable and at ease in the place you are in.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, and Eugene Rochberg-Halton. The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Print.
Brahm, Gabriel, and Mark Driscoll. Prosthetic Territories: Politics and Hypertechnologies. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. Print.
Poyrazli, Senel, and Damian Lopez Marcos. "An Exploratory Study of Perceived Discrimination and Homesickness: A Comparison of International Students and American Students." The Journal of psychology 141.3 (2007): 263-80. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.
Hendrickson, Blake, Devan Rosen, and R. K. Aune. "An Analysis of Friendship Networks, Social Connectedness, Homesickness, and Satisfaction Levels of International Students." International Journal of Intercultural Relations : IJIR 35.3 (2011): 281. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.