There’s a certain beauty about words that cannot be translated into other languages. They swell and burst with meaning, moving and shifting as constellations in the mind. Their beauty granted by their mystery, these words are our white whales. Like Tantalus in his everlasting pursuit for the unreachable, we grope at the meanings of these words but are unable to grip them, unable to seize them and pull them towards us.
For me, there’s a certain relation between these words and the feeling one gets in EMIS. There’s a certain feeling of dépaysement, a feeling of being a foreigner, displaced from your hometown. No matter how warm people can be, there’s always something we’re looking for that we can never attain; the elusive sense of being at home away from home. We gain a sense of hiraeth, romanticizing a past that never was, moving through a stage of regret and disdain towards ourselves for making the decision of leaving home.
The realization that finding a home away from home is an asymptotic goal is a harsh one. It crushes you as you realize that you’ll be spending two years of your life in a place that you might never truly call ‘yours’. You realize home is far away, and that you will desperately miss parts of your life for periods of half a year in a row. For some, this missing part will be family. It will be friends. It’ll be your room, your sense of privacy. The food. Your mother’s cooking. For me, this is being able to walk around barefoot. It’s being able to leave the house and walk for miles in acacia forest, in the middle of nowhere, the only noise other than leaves crunching beneath your feet being the chirping birds and the humming cicadas. It’s the warm, friendly feeling of being able to smile at a stranger, and guarantee a smile back. It’s the sight of a skink walking across your wall, the sound of rain tapping on your window, a small dog curled up beside you in bed.
Luckily for the few of us who have a harder time accepting our new situation, there’s something EMIS has that not a lot of other places do which makes it all tolerable; an amazing, supportive community. No matter what situation you are in, you will find support. Whether you’re tired, sick or frustrated with life, you’ll have a friend. If you can’t sleep, it’s three in the morning and you’re not feeling yourself, you’ll have a friend. No matter what, you’ll have a friend. Just like Hogwarts, EMIS will always welcome you home. Well, maybe it won’t welcome you home, but the people here will try their hardest to make you feel like it does.
If that isn’t the sign of true friendship and a wonderful community, I don’t know what is.
“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” – Albus Dumbledore
Written by Shy Zvouloun
Edited by Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe