THE BLOG
03/02/2015 06:53 GMT | Updated 01/04/2015 06:59 BST

Home Away From Home

Slowly, the dark sky is gently rinsed by hints of blue. Dark blue, light blue, lighter... And gold wash. So emerges the silhouettes of pink coloured clouds, rejoicing at the dawn of a new day.

One of my very first blog entries after I started college was on nostalgia. It was an overwhelming emotion that accompanied that first-year curiosity in everything around me in my new home. When I got my college acceptance, I knew that I would not be able to celebrate birthdays at home, or join the countdown to the Chinese New Year with the whole family.

The sun is awakening. It is growing stronger and stronger, no longer playing hide and seek with the orange street lamp. I can see the brightness and promises of broad daylight.

Watching the sunrise and strolling in the sleepy village became a prime pastime for the jet-lagged me. Weary-eyed traveller, international student, freshwoman... Here I am, in my home away from home for the next few years. 6:30 a.m. is when our local bakery opens on weekdays. There, I would buy myself a cup of "milk with chocolate" and a freshly baked chocolate and banana danish, and start typing on my laptop.

I can see the brightness and promises of broad daylight.

Calling two places "home" entails numerous long plane rides where I would fall asleep on top of my book, and eat (or not) the often tasteless meals. Nevertheless, I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do so. On the one side of the globe are my family members, many of my childhood friends, and the streets and buildings that I remember so well. On the other side of the world is my new academic life: the professors, college dorm, new friends, the California climate...

When I returned home, all the memories flood back. How can I possibly forget the scents of the fluffy bear that smelt of lavenders? Or how studiously I highlighted those books throughout, back in the days when I studied at the school 10 minutes away from our apartment? It still seems hard to believe that I no longer study there. Beijing is no longer associated with daily homework, or the alarm clock that I disliked. Why does the sound of "Next Station: Causeway Bay" sound so familiar, yet tinged with a sense of wistfulness?

A month after I rushed to embrace my parents at the airport, I am back on campus with my suitcase, excited about the new semester. Gazing at a once-so-familiar place that appears slightly unfamiliar to me now, I realized how much I missed the omelet with cheese that our dining hall serves, although I had seemed to grown tired of it towards the end of the last term.