If you were to ask me this question 4-5 years ago, I would have just given an immediate answer of “Vietnam.” My definition of “home” was very simple and straight forward back then: it’s where I grew up and where my immediate family is. I was still not used to the American lifestyle and culture. Everything was brand new to me. I missed the cacophony and endless cars on the streets during rush hours in Vietnam. I missed the chattering of people at the Ben Thanh Market on a Sunday morning. I missed the privilege of eating authentic Vietnamese food every day. I miss my room and my bed, the bed that I’ve been sleeping on for 16 years. And of course, I missed my family and my old friends. Thus, my house in Vietnam was very much my home. It’s where I grew up, it’s where my family and friends are, it’s where I’m familiar with.
6 years have passed since I first studied abroad in the U.S. I’ve grown and learned a lot. I guess you can say that I’ve been “Americanized,” and gotten used to living here. I became familiar with many cities in L.A. and O.C. I memorized the different streets and freeways that were once very strange to me. I know where to get the (somewhat biased) best burrito, the best ravioli, or the best boba milk tea in L.A. Slowly but surely, I got used to my life in the U.S.
And it hit me that I don’t know where my “real home” is anymore! It should still be Vietnam right? Because after all, it’s where I grew up and where my family is! But a lot have changed since I studied abroad. Or is it the U.S, since I spent 6 years here and got used to my new life here? I mean, I did make some great friends in the U.S, and also have family members here. My simple definition of “home is where you grew up and where your family and friends are” just got more complicated. Studying abroad and living in a new country changed my perspective of a “home.”
So ultimately, where in the world is my home? I guess it could either be Vietnam or the U.S. Vietnam has been and will always be my first home, because it’s where I grew up and where my family is. But the U.S. is also my home, my second home, because it helped me grow and equipped me with important life lessons. Home doesn’t necessarily have to be my house in Vietnam anymore. It could also very well be my USC apartment in L.A, or my grandma’s house in O.C. I don’t think that home needs to be something physical, like a house or an apartment either. Home could even be something intangible, such as the time you spend enjoying that delicious homemade meal with your parents and siblings, or the quality bonding time you have with your best friends.
As long as you’re at ease with yourself and truly long to be there, that’s where home is. I guess the phrase “Home is where the heart is” is right after all. I still don’t have one definite answer for where my home is, but all I can say is that I’m proud to call both Vietnam and the U.S. my homes.
About Hue La
Hey there, I'm Hue (pronounced “huay”, not “hue” like how you would normally say it in English). I'm a USC graduate and traveler with 6+ years of study abroad experience in the U.S. I founded Study Abroad Corner with the goals of providing helpful advice and building a social network for fellow study abroaders around the world.