For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
Display screen shot 2017 07 06 at 11.02.35 am
Jul 06 2017
by Sarah Shih

Saying Goodbye to the Town That Isn't My Home

By Sarah Shih - Jul 06 2017

For most people, moving away from home isn't something uncommon. Sometimes our parents get new job opportunities. Sometimes we simply want a change in scenery. And most of all, for a lot of young people everywhere, we move so we can get the education we want at an institute of our dream. And maybe not all of us miss the place where we come from, but there are always sentiments attached to our place of origin.

For me, that place of origin is not the town I currently live in. People always say that home is where the heart is and it is definitely true for me — ever since I moved from Taiwan to Canada five years ago with my parents, Taiwan is the place I dream of at night; it is the summer plan that I always look forward to. Thirteen years may not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it is the place that comes to my mind whenever the word "home" is brought up. And these 13 years included my childhood, which made Taiwan even more important to me.

Now it is time for me to leave South Surrey, Canada, the place I moved to five years ago, because my parents want a better education for me and my siblings, for a university all the way across the country. This goodbye feels very different from the one I bid to Taiwan five years ago: While both are filled with uncertainty for the future, there was more fear and sadness the first time I moved. This time, it simply feels somewhat surreal. I couldn't have wanted this goodbye more, but now I can't be sure if the same excitement is there.

Because even though I have been longing to leave this quiet town behind — five years ago because I wanted to go back to Taiwan, and now because I am excited for university — I have grown used to it. Moreover, I have changed so much. I spent my adolescence here, my most vulnerable yet important years of my life. And as I was signing yearbooks and taking pictures on the last day of school, it struck me how a big part of me came from here. 

My high school life, all five years of it, happened here. This is where I applied to universities, discovered my passion for Spanish and creative writing and met inspiring teachers. I met my friends, who had been there during every single happy and devastating moment. These people later became the core members of the school's writing club with me, and as we hosted meetings and tried to recruit new members on club day, we grew together. We explored our passion together.

Of course, my school life wasn't the only thing that happened. My spontaneous decision that led me to four years of violin lessons took place in this very town, and I even spent a year in a district orchestra. The caring home I spent three years at as a volunteer was here, the details of the hallways and garden still fresh on my mind along with the names and faces of the residents I met. My first part time job, the one that brought me immense stress but still shaped me as a person, would be left behind in this quiet place when I boarded the plane that took me to a city provinces away.

Earlier this year, as I struggled to keep up with stress at school and college application, I had hoped to leave and that my senior year would end faster. Days had dragged out, and it surprised me how quickly it all ended when it came down to the last month. Before I really noticed, grad dance and commencement had started and ended, as had my exams. Now I am not sure if I would be as eager to leave when I am waiting at the gate at the airport, my boarding pass almost slipping out of my hand from all the anxiety. It wasn't until the last day of school when I started to question if leaving town means leaving a big part of me behind too.

As my mom drove me home from my last shift at work, she had casually said, "Well, everything that defines your high school life has ended."

Dear South Surrey, I don't know when my return will be. I don't know if I will be able to call you home when homesickness catches up to me at university. But I do know that you don't need to be my home for me to miss you. Thank you for making me who I am. 

Lead Image Credit: Mika Matin via Unsplash

Want to write for Fresh U? Join now
Want more Fresh U? Like us on Facebook!
Sarah Shih - University of Western Ontario

Sarah is a Second Year student attending the University of Western Ontario studying Psychology and Linguistics. In her free time, she can be seen reading or writing. If she is silent during a conversation, she is most likely plotting for her next article or the next chapter in her novel.

Most Popular