The World Is My Home: How My Study-Abroad Roommates Changed My Life

I’ve loved a lot of things — boys, places, certainly shoes — but change wasn’t one of them.

I've always loved home.

Home meant a warm bed. It meant clean laundry and cuddling with pets. It meant safety and acceptance.

While it didn’t necessarily connote perfection, it did mean happiness.

The older I got, the more I realized (provided I wanted to chase my dreams) change was inevitable and ultimately necessary.

In the blink of an eye, everything changed: my sacred relationships, my stubborn mind and the home I always knew and cherished.

Home soon became a place where sleep was hard to come by, where the parties dominated, where the alcohol flowed constantly and where the library became my biggest ally. Home became college.

For a while, home was college. Then, without warning, home was halfway around the world in Florence, Italy.

So, now what?

“Grow where you are planted” is a quote I once saw that helps me embrace change. I was planted in a new place with people I knew nothing about. It was time to grow.

And, grow is exactly what we did.

Home was once filled with Mom’s cooking and endless hot water. Now, it consisted of loud noises and the absence of a dryer.

We came from a life of ease and security, and we transitioned into a life of total independence.

Home was once a place of green grass and white-picket fences, but it became a place of unfamiliar rhythms, waking up in the night not knowing where in the world you were or whom in the world you were with.

Home was once a place where the walk from the front door to the car was an annoyance. It became a place where walking to class meant walking past historic monuments and world travelers.

Home was once the place where I fell asleep on a Thursday night and woke up on a Friday morning.

It became a restless feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realized my weekend of travel was soon approaching.

It was once the promise of “Ah, I’ll just do it tomorrow.” It became the comfort of seemingly falling asleep on a train in one country and waking up in another.

Home was once a place crowded by familiar faces, by friends we have known and grown with our entire lives. It became all of you. It became all of us.

I’ve always been a homebody. I still am. The only difference is that home has changed. I always thought home was a "where." Now, I know it is a "who."

I traveled across the world and realized I had a home because I had you. My semester abroad roommates — these uniquely different girls who have beautiful souls and the potential to change the world — became my best friends, my family and my home.

Now it’s time to go home to Mom's meals and white picket fences. Excited as we may be, it’s important we don’t forget a second of our adrenaline-riddled adventures and the beautifully capable people we have morphed into.

Our beds may still be made, and our pets may be waiting for us, but our homes have changed. Why? Because we have changed.

Our minds have expanded, our attitudes have matured and our hair roots have grown out. We have the pictures, the permanent smiles and the extra 15 pounds to prove it.

When I now think of home, I will not think of the security I once believed kept me sane.

No, I will think of each and every one of you: the laughs and the fights, the miracles and the messes, the fact we ate, slept and breathed each other for four months straight and loved every minute of it.

Change is inevitable. Change is necessary. Our physical homes will always be there waiting, but I now know we’re blessed enough to find a little piece of home in the hearts of the ones we choose as our best friends.

As we leave each other and the beautiful place we were lucky enough to call home this past semester, promise me you remember your worth.

Promise me to be yourselves. Promise me that no matter how much it hurts, you will always reach within yourselves and feel.

Promise me you will look back on this time and realize you lived. Promise me once in a while, you will blow your own damn mind.

I’ll let you guys in on a little secret: I was scared sh*tless to leave behind everything I knew and start over.

I was scared sh*tless I wouldn’t belong. I was scared sh*tless to grow where I was planted. I was scared sh*tless to leave my home.

But, as time passed and the weeks blurred, the fear faded until I couldn’t even remember what I was scared of in the first place.

My family was never out of my mind, but the longing for home became a fleeting feeling. Home was changing and now, home is forever changed.

I traveled all the way around the world to realize that with you and because of you, I was home all along.