AUCians Abroad! Featured Opinion 

Letter From Lebanon: No Home Away From Home

As I was leaving for the airport to Beirut, it hit me that for the first time I will not be living at home.

I had never thought twice about what home meant. It was where I conducted my daily activities and where my parents lived.

I knew the difference between a home and a house, and was thankful they were both one and the same to me – an area of warmth and comfort.

After 12 years in the same house, going up the same stairs every day and sitting down at the same table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I was to say goodbye.

At that point, I had yet not contemplated the idea that I was now to find a new home.

I knew I would be living at the university dorms for my semester abroad, but I did not once consider the fact that they would become my new home.

I expected that as soon as I entered, my new room would be ready with open arms.

And it was ready; but not to become my new home – my new living space yes, but reflecting now on my experience I can firmly say that I could not afford it that privilege.

Sadly, it became the complete opposite of what a home is and should be.

It became a space I dreaded. The four same walls became my bedroom, study room, and living room, and in all cases I could not stand the place entirely.

The place where I was supposed to feel the most tranquil left me with uttermost discomfort.

The place where I was supposed to go to for some quiet became the source of the loudest bangs, booms, and screeches.

This is largely because it was not my area to make home. For the first time I shared a room with a stranger.

I was unable to freely live my daily life or go through any activities ranging from making a simple cup of tea to studying in bed.

Every action on my part would be met with a remark or a stare, and so what was supposed to be my home for five months became my least favorite place in the city.

Knowing what home is supposed to feel like, I came to see the privilege of having, and being blissfully unaware, just lived there a few months ago.

The dorms became a place of anger, fear, and constant anxiety.

A place I would rather leave and abandon – walk out and never look back.

It was technically still my house, where I would come back to at night, where I left my belongings, and where I fell asleep and woke up everyday.

Yet I would fall asleep wishing I wouldn’t have to wake up in the same room and wake up wishing I could just go back to sleep to avoid it all.

There came a point where I no longer cared for the four walls enclosing me. Nor could I tolerate those sharing the prison cell I came “home” to.

Unfortunately, I had nowhere else to go. No other bed to rock me to sleep or a desk to set up work at.

And so, my pillows have grown tired of holding dreams of waking up in my real home.

It got so bad that I packed my belongings and moved to a hotel for the last week of the semester, a long overdue decision that took just seconds to make.

At the hotel I found more peace, quiet and freedom. Nevertheless, it was nowhere close to the home I longed for.

After five months of unease, I can confidently say I am thankful for the heartache.

Now I know how precious it is to have a house be a home.

How privileged I am to be literally and figuratively going back home.

Malak Sekaly
Caravan Columnist

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