The first few weeks of life on campus are a game of guesswork and approximation – of how many clothes you will bring onto campus, of how much detergent is necessary for your laundry, of decoding the ways of cleaning and chores, of creating a schedule for a life bound by weekdays and semesters. Yet, funnily enough, sometimes this guesswork does not quite end.
Campus life is unlike anything from before. It is not orientation, repeated across 13 weeks, nor is it quite like being at home. In sharing the same living space with new-found neighbours, maybe old friends, and fellows, there is a learning of living between people who at first pace each other with mismatched strides, who are not yet adjusted to one another. There can be friction in these different lifestyles that now play out side by side, but eventually like two people walking side by side, we all begin to dance to a similar beat. On the flip side, there are also friends and neighbours that slowly morph into new family, who look after you as dearly as your own family might, and whom you share bouts of laughter and tears with.
There is no nagging now, for you to clean the layer of dust off your shelves, for you to organise your desk, for you to make your bed every morning when you wake. By having the freedom to choose when to do chores and how to take care of yourself, you also learn to live with yourself on campus, not just by yourself, and through this navigation are made conscious of your habits and how you make decisions in each day. Living away from home is hence throwing yourself into strange, unfamiliar ground, where you are responsible for what you may have taken for granted back at home. However, apart from the chores of daily life, living on campus is also a plunge into liberation and into independence, and that is an experience in itself.
But most importantly, of living on campus, there is endless comfort in being around these friends you now call family, in being in a building block that you now call your second home. It takes us different lengths of time to settle in, we don’t all begin to stretch our roots in the first week or two. Nonetheless, what is consistent is this: Here, we all find home, 2.0, away from home.
We find home 2.0 in the everyday: through the people we meet, the experiences we have and the possibilities of acting on both carefully made plans and spontaneous whims. We find it on humid late afternoons with our fans turned on to speed three, surrounded by the sounds of the toilet undergoing cleaning and your neighbours coming home from class. Or, when we peer at the lights from Cinnamon from our windows in the early wee hours of the morning, at semester’s end – mirror-image warriors charging together against time, towards essays, through notes, and under assignments. Or, when going for supper, tonight, wherever, just because.
It is not all fairy lights and happiness, but home 2.0 is a breath of air away from just holing up in the comfort zone of home 1.0, and a chance to grow alongside the people who will inspire and challenge you day by day. It is where, at the end of the semester, you and I will be continually surprised that you can fit fourteen weeks of collectibles, papers and notes into a couple of cardboard boxes and a suitcase, packed away for a December, and brought back next year for a new semester. The boxes are testament to the transience of our stay within the four walls of this second home, but maybe within the four walls of your rooms and in the crevices of this campus you will leave memories to look back upon, as we all do, in the end. Whether at the beginning, middle, or end of your stay here at home 2.0, the common ground is that this stay is a movement forwards, whether fumbling, whether in a run, whether the skies are sunny or grey.
Thumbnail and header image by Mary Ann Lim, inset image by Ng Kia Ling.
About the Author
Vanessa is a writer, but more than that, mostly a wonderer. Occasionally disappears from her battle with English Literature, into the sun, sand and sea.