Home away from home: An international perspective

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

  • Watson residents

    Watson residents

Written by Rachna Mutreja (Contest Entry)


“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I waited in anticipation for months. It was on April 3rd, 2003, that fateful day, when I was notified of my acceptance to the University of Guelph. Elated, I didn’t even rethink my instantaneous decision to attend the university that fall. Of course, I had mixed feelings. I finally knew where I was going to go, but I didn’t know how I would leave my friends, family, and my life in Thailand behind. My parents couldn’t believe I was going to leave and neither did I. I spent all summer dreading, yet waiting to lead a life of independence and freedom. I was going to enter an unknown world and walk through it alone. I had never been on my own or lived away from my family. Living in Thailand, I was brought up with all the luxuries and now I had to learn to give them up and do things by myself. The summer was filled with days of fun-filled laughter with friends and family, travelling, shopping, and of course, the hours of packing, unpacking and re-packing things I wanted to bring along with me (there never seemed to be enough space). Finally, three suitcases and four months later, I left my trail to create a new path in an unfamiliar land with no expectations.

I didn’t realize until I arrived on the Monday of Frosh Week that everyone else moving in and starting university life was feeling similar to how I was. Most people weren’t moving half way across the world, but they were too moving away from home. My mother and I were greeted by tons of new faces, who directed to my room. I was overwhelmed with all the smiling, energetic OVs. I was here-Guelph; my new home for the next four years. There was no turning back.

The excitement that was generated during Frosh Week was intense and amazing. I got to know my neighbours and other students on campus. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, which made me feel comfortable really quickly. I pushed myself to meet new people so that I could get more familiar with the place. Soon enough, Frosh Week ended and things slowed down. Classes began and there were still tons of activities to do around the campus. There was so much exploring and learning to do. Days passed by and then weeks and I felt awfully homesick. I missed my family and friends back home. It was awful. I didn’t know how I would survive another six or so months without seeing them. However, I made some close friends in residence who made my experience easier, especially as classes got harder.

Living in international house gave me the most out of my first and second year. I had the privilege or meeting so many amazing people with so many talents. I have learned so much and have had so many experiences that I will cherish. Everyone has made my life so much more bearable living so far from home. I have been given so much and wouldn’t have traded the last few months for anything. The most rewarding thing, however, is that I was given the opportunity and privilege to give back to the Watson (International House) community through the position of Resident Assistant last year. I have gained so much this year and I hope that my experiences will be able to help the future Watsonites. All my doubts and fears of embarking on this new journey have disappeared. I have created a new path here and am leaving my trail with hope that it will cross those of others who decide to begin their new paths at Guelph.

“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?” - Mary Manin Morrissey

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