Well this is something I never thought I'd be writing.

Monday 18 February, 16:49pm
The sun is streaming through the slats of the blinds and into the room. I can feel its warmth on my face. I have been in this room for the past hour with a friend passing the time together whilst we wait to head to our separate lectures together. The sun has imposed a golden cast on his hair and his kind brown eyes...those eyes. The small light brown flecks dancing into the deep black of the pupil. 'Feels like home' by The Him is playing faintly in the background. But other than that, it's silent, no need to speak.   Just enjoying the moment as the sun sets and the darkness overtakes the once bright blue of the sky. An overwhelming feeling of contentment washes over me. Life can have some pretty shitty lows but do you know what? I'll take infinite 'lows' if it means I can have just one of these highs I've been feeling.

I didn't think I'd reach a point of comfort in this abnormally hilly, super sunny, blue skied, very green place in the middle of Devon. I'd never even thought I'd ever really call it home. Home is such a heavy word, so weighty and filled with an indescribable significance. Home isn't necessarily the place you were born, grew up in, went to school in, did all the milestones like learning how to ride a bike or discovering that you, idk, like indie music. I left London in September essentially kicking and screaming with a very hollow heart and even hollower expectations of what my life in a new city would be like. I was holding onto 'home' without really knowing what it meant to me. I've realised that to me, Exeter is home. It's where I've already made countless memories from black eyes, salsa classes, trips to the beach, rugby games and batty bingo games where everyone gets drunk by round 3. It's approaching 6 months since I've lived and studied here and I already know that by the end of my time here, the memories I've acquired from here will outnumber those made in London.

I was so hesitant about Exeter for the majority of last year. I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go. I was so intent on taking a year out. People ask me if I regret not taking the gap year I wanted to and I don't. I've ended up where I am meant to be. The world has it's way of doing that, you know? I cannot imagine myself studying and living elsewhere. Oh how I wish I could say this to Dalal from last year. I now understand the saying "If you like Exeter in the rain, you'll love it in the sun" because on the mornings I wake up to blue skies and the sunlight glimmering off the slightly damp leaves, everything just feels right. My time here has taught me so much about myself, and this is only half a year in. I've found my family in the middle eastern and north african society who give me a sense of connection to a 'home' that's even further away in Africa. I've been dragged out of my room countless times by my Spanish friends who always insist I join pre's and party with them. My French friends have given me another sense of belonging, one I can't quite put my finger on. My Norwegian friends have taught me to appreciate the simplicity of a glass of red wine (for them, as I do not drink) and those casually profound conversations that the Norwegians are just so good at having. And of course, my fellow Londoners have brought along the diversity, slang and sense of humour that characterises my life growing up there perfectly.

I have a newfound adoration for the natural world perhaps because we have the highest tree to student ratio, had to get that one in ;) or simply because of the sheer beauty I'm surrounded by even on my walks short walks to campus. I'm a 25 minute train ride from the beach, a luxury I have never had and one I am making the most out of. I was looking through my Essaouira travel post to see what photos I could use to post on my travel page and saw this line which made me smile: "it's [surfing] honestly my favourite thing ever and may even be one of the reasons I applied to a coastal university." I don't know. It might not seem like much to the outsider but to me, reading this post from 2017 and seeing signs that this really was the place for me felt somewhat triumphant, as if it proves that this was all indeed meant to be.

So I guess here's to Exeter, the place I flippantly referred to as 'home' in multiples conversations with my mum over christmas break and a place that already holds such a special place in my heart. Here's to more hikes, sandy beaches, roadtrips to Cornwall, surfing, golden hours spent with special people, random weekend trips away with friends, brunch after seminars, that feeling when the train conductor says "we are now approaching Exeter St Davids", runs by the Quay, brownies and hot chocolate, nights ending with you smelling like a walking packet of cigarettes and tequila, evenings spent in spoons, countless hours spent in various study spaces on campus, dodging seagulls and those small but sweet chats you have with flatmates whilst cooking dinner together.

It's taken me a while to get to this point but I wouldn't have it any other way.

"Oh I don't know where I am, but it feels like home" 

What does home mean to you?
Dalal

8 comments

  1. Dalal I love this (basically the phrases I write at every comment on your blog because they are all INCREDIBLE). But for real, there's a simplicity to this post that is so perfect and I'm so glad Exeter is feeling like home to you, that's all anyone could hope when they go to university. Reading your London post, there was this intangible sadness that seemed to tinge the post and I just hoped Exeter would be fab for you. And it seems like it is. I listened to 'Feels Like Home' expecting it to be a song to slow dance to but the upbeat nature really encapsulates this post.
    For me, I don't think I've found home yet. Where I live now, it feels like a stepping stone, not a solid quantity. The city I go to college in feels a lot more like home, purely because of the memories I've made there and I hope where I university will be the same. This evening was the first time I've felt secure in my decision to firm Bristol and reading this post has made me even more motivated to get the grades to get there. Because I hope that this time next year, it will feel like home. (and I will be visiting you in ex!)

    eleanorclaudie.com

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    1. Ah thank you Eleanor! I did try to make this as "poetic" and "beautiful" as the London post but I feel like it wasn't necessary as I wasn't exactly expressing 'sadness.' I first heard the song in a club during freshers week and it felt so fitting at that time and for now too- I love it. I like that you referred to your current home as simply being a stepping home, I wonder how that will change when you get close to moving out for uni! You will love and flourish in Bristol, I'm sure of it. Yes, please do come down and visit me when you're there <3

      Love from Dalal

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  2. Great post! I miss university so much, good luck :D

    www.writtenbyca.wordpress.com

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  3. I loved how simple and uplifting this post was Dalal, I am so happy for you that you have settled into Exeter and it has become your home! I think the meaning of what a home is can be really debated upon, but the angle you take of it being somewhere where you have so many lasting memories is something I really like and can resonate with. Where I am at college right now does not feel like home at all, instead just a place where I am waiting for university, going to London where I plan to spend longer than just the next three years of my life, so hopefully that will feel like home. Really loved this post x

    Erin // Everything Erin

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    1. Thank you- I'm so glad you liked the post and agree with it! You'll have the best time in London, it's a big city and can be very isolating at times but it truly is one of the best places to be and I'm certain that you'll have an amazing few years there- it'll feel like home in no time.

      Dalal

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  4. Man, Dalal I adore this and how fucking far have u come from being on the phone to ur dad and wanting to go home. Home is such an elusive concept, I don't know where my home is, I think home is with people. But I'm okay with not knowing yet. Exeter sounds magical, I neeeeed to come and visit so bad. Hope life is still is as magical xx

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    1. damn I've missed your comments. it's crazy to think how much your outlook can change within months. please come and visit meeee :,((((

      lots of LOVE
      dalal

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Thank you for reading! I love reading comments and will always reply to them.

Lots of love, Dalal

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