As the summer began and I finally left Georgetown, I encountered a strange dread to return to what should be the most familiar place on Earth — home. After spending a long period of time so far away, the most familiar could also be the strangest, as my boarding school experience from high school had proven.

In high school, the idea of returning home for a vacation was always exciting at first. But the days of sitting around in the house, reading book after book on a hot summer afternoon soon turned too banal. Having completed a year of college, I found myself facing the same fear of returning home: the familiar drive on the streets in Taiwan, the bustling scooters zigzagging everywhere, the skyscrapers blocking the view and the old brick houses lined up on both sides. The hometown scenery is altogether too quaint and too plain.

Once home, I was met with some immediate shocks: My brother is no longer an elementary school student, my thirteen-year-old sister carries her iPhone to the dinner table — an official sign of entering the teenage phase — and my parents finally picked up the good habit of exercising in the morning.

These changes sucked me into the lifestyle of home once again. As silly as it seems to name all these trivial changes, they have pushed me to rethink the unchanging nature of home that I took for granted and to take note of the growth of my siblings and my family that I had not anticipated before returning. These changes stopped me from thinking about classes, meetings, internships or other things that I have to pursue, and focus on the present.

I started to readjust myself to the lifestyle at home and reclaim the little joys of driving my siblings to school, having early breakfast with my parents, weekend trips to the beach and late-night movies. The dread of returning home that I experienced earlier seemed silly as the simple family time that I thought I had outgrown re-established its value. If I can make the effort to learn about the stories of my fellow classmates, the professors, the kids I work with in D.C. Reads, I certainly should not have any hesitation to spend time with my own family members, who are just as intriguing, and most importantly, loving and accepting.

As the college years ensue and as we slowly proceed into adulthood, it is easy to think that we have outgrown our past, especially home, and to focus on the future and where our lives are going. But what I felt during my three-week return to home this summer is that it is the only place on earth that is able to strike you as being both strangely alien and so comfortable at the same time.

Home is not the past. Home is part of us that we carry with us now and into the future. No matter when we choose to return, we will inevitably need the support of home in every stage of life.

Having left home for Tanzania over a week ago, I was finally able to connect to internet and dialed my home numbers via Skype after frantically searching for WiFi in several hotels. Hearing my mother’s voice, my sister’s laugh on the other side of the phone was a huge relief, especially after a day of scrambling to search for my lost suitcase, which included my laptop and a month of clothes. This sense of relief from calling home, whether from abroad or from school after a hard midterm or simply a difficult day, comes from the unique knowledge that at home there is someone, somewhere who has your back, no matter where you are.

Rita Chang is a rising sophomore in the College. Perks of Summer appears every other Wednesday at thehoya.com.

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