He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown: Homesickness

1964818_10152284750611249_2331048537365204112_nArjun Narayen Photography, https://www.facebook.com/ArjunNarayenPhotography

Hi there! I’m Seunglee Lee, a first year blogger for He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown. For nervous freshmen, including myself, nothing is more exiting yet intimidating than prospects of dorm life. As I navigate through all the fun, hectic and hilarious experiences dorm life at Brown has to offer, I hope to share them with you and hopefully convince you that Brown is the place to be.

I have to admit; my parents (and I to some degree) are not very tech-savvy to say the least. After a week of trying during orientation week, we just resorted to talking on the phone and hearing each other’s voices. We may have just used the technology issue as an excuse, though. I sometimes think we were afraid that we would miss each other’s presence more if we saw our faces too frequently.

Today, I video chatted them for the first time. It was, in fact, the first time I saw my dad’s face since August, since I didn’t go home for winter break. It struck me how our house looked so familiar, as if I was there all along. I then realized how I’ve been missing home all along. I’ve lived away from my parents for a considerable period of time – around half the time I lived in the U.S. – and was certain I was past homesickness. Then things that I was secretly envious of began to come up on my mind, like my friends from the East Coast who could go home anytime they wanted to, parents visiting during Family Weekend, and people in Korea celebrating the Lunar New Year with their families.

College life back home is completely different to that in the U.S. A lot of, if not most, students commute to school from home. Dorm life is not nearly as prevalent as it is here. I am largely happy I had the chance, which fostered a real sense of community with my classmates and taught me how to become independent. At the same time, as much as I appreciate Andrews Commons’ Asian selections like bibimbap and Vietnamese pho, I terribly miss the food, from home-cooked meals to street food. Besides, hailing from Seoul, one of the busiest and most populated cities in the world, I sometimes miss the bustle and the craziness.

In reality, I rarely have time to sink into homesickness. I have commitments both inside and outside of classes, which are piling up and getting more intense as the year progresses. These worries disappear when I am having a good laugh with my peers. Such moments just emerge from time to time in which I become both bittersweet and grateful about the choices I have made. There was a time in which I felt incredibly guilty for choosing to come to Brown, for both financial and emotional reasons. These are feelings I still struggle with today, but that guilt has now mainly become gratefulness for what I have been given.

I am especially thankful that I have people around me who understand how I feel. I sense strong solidarity within the Korean as well as the international student communities. I also meet a lot of American students who are genuinely fascinated by our backgrounds and are willing to help in ways they can. From the Thanksgiving Spandy and I spent at our friend’s home in Massachusetts to the gathering held by KASA (Korean American Student Association) to have tteokguk (a rice cake soup eaten on Lunar New Year) to the occasional “Korean-style dinners” with rice and side dishes brought from home with friends, I can truly say the Brown community is built upon an incredible sense of empathy.

Do you have any questions or comments? Shoot me an email at seung_lee_lee@brown.edu and I’ll get back to you!


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