Finding what makes it feel like home.
The View from My Bridge. Waterloo Bridge, London, England. September 2014.
Or, at the very least, like you are more than just a guest or visitor.
At this point, I’ve been living here just a bit off of the South Bank of London for just a day over two weeks and it’s been surprising what has made me feel like I am actually living here rather than just visiting the area.
I’m living in school run accommodations, sharing a flat with three other girls which makes it feel a bit like being back at my undergrad. These girls, however, nice as they are, aren’t the girls I spent my undergraduate career with—there is none of the familiar “lets run around town figuring this place out together” that fundamentally shaped my previous away from home living experiences.
I have the majority of the things from home that I need straight out of my suitcase—my bedding, my monkey (stuffed, obviously), my best friends going away gift, and a good portion of my wardrobe. Unpacking however, made me think more about what I brought that I maybe didn’t need (too many cobblestones for those heels no matter how easy to walk in and lovely they look!) and those things left behind that maybe I should have considered after all (a second towel, for example… not that I can’t buy a spare or that just right shade of lipstick which seems to have been misplaced). Once my bags were packed and stowed safely out of sight, things still didn’t sit the way I thought they ought to.
And then I looked at my bed and realized I couldn’t actually get in it… as my clothes were without hangers and this school, it seems, had never heard of dressers.
So STEP 1 of feeling like home is simple get organized which for me translated directly into go and buy some hangers. This took a few days of doing and a few long walking trips to Argos but a few days later, my clothes were all organized and put away exactly where I knew they should be (if you are living in a smaller area than you are used to like I am, there are a lot of blogs that talk about making the most of the space you have… I’m planning on maybe posting on another blog about this down the road but HERE is a great option!).
So 30 hangers later, my room felt a bit more like home.
Walking out of that room and into the living/dining area shared between me and the three other residence, however, still felt far from home. Just so you get the idea: upon arrival my first night, I found a welcome package in my room that, among a few promotional items, contained a complimentary bag or spiced, microwavable rice. So my first night, I sat cross legged on my bed, surrounded by a moat of clothes (no hangers at that point!), fighting with my computer which did not want to access the internet, and eating my newly steamed bag of rice with my hands while mentally cursing the heat of the pouches contents. And yet it took almost a full week for me to finally get to the store to pick up my dishes and cooking utensils.
For my settling in that was STEP 2being able to cook real food and eat it off of an actual dish rather than a plastic bin. There is nothing wrong with eating take away or easy to go meals that you pick up at the market and pop into your microwave when you get back, but there is a real home feeling and satisfaction to being able to buy ingredients and prepare a meal for yourself. And not having to eat everything with my hands or out of a mug (there was also a lot of ‘just add water!’ soup in mugs that week as well) was unexplainably refreshing.
In fact, having pots to cook in and dishes to eat out of even makes me forget that I’m cramming my stuff from groceries to those same utensils into every nook and cranny I can find (oh, the joys of moving in last!)… or, it almost does!
But maybe I’m easy. All I needed to feel a like I could survive living in this place so far away was a few hangers and cook wear. The easy access to friends and family online doesn’t hurt, however (I was serious a few weeks back about looking into social media and video chat networks!). But I guess that’s the thing about moving, or really travel in general:
You can have all the extravagances in the world, but it’s having those little things that actually make the biggest differences.
Anyway, I want to hear from you guys. What do you need—whether buy, bring or even make—to make where you are feel like home when you move or travel?
I’m not sure what next week’s post—or next week’s adventures—are going to entail, but, as always, until then:
I’m Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.