By Anonymous. Art by Maheen Syed ’19.

I have been at Brown three years, in which I have found myself getting increasingly attached to Brown and my friends here. I was always told to expect my friends at college to become my family. I would come home to them, rely on them to bring me food when I was unwell, to bring my books from home if I forgot them before an exam, and to talk to them at night before I went to bed. The concept of friends turning into family, however, was still unknown to me until the start of this semester. For me, my friends at Brown really became my family when I went through an experience that I could not share with my family that was too far away back home.

Despite the feelings of homesickness fading away the longer you spend away from home, there are still times where you really do need your ‘family.’ I had one of these experiences at the start of this semester. Two days before I was to come back to Brown, I lost my dog, who I had grown up with, and considered an integral part of my life. It was an experience that I knew I. would have to face at some point, but thought that I would be able to face with my family. To have to leave home and come back to Brown within two days of that did not give me time to even spend time with my family. For the first time in a while, I felt this reluctance to come back to Brown, which I had never felt before.

The first few weeks of the semester were very hard for me – since this was the first time I really experienced losing someone close in my life, it came with a lot of uncertainty about how I would react, how I would process my emotions, and most importantly, how I would deal with a situation like this so far away from my family. As I was at the airport in Mumbai, ready to leave home, I had my first anxiety attack – I started feeling breathless, scared that something was physically wrong with me, and very reluctant to go back to Brown.

Having anxiety has been very new to me, and there were many moments when I came back to Brown where I would have more of these attacks, and with that came this intense fear that I thought could be solved only by having my family around me. It was through this process that my friends at Brown really became my family. I realized how much support I got from my roommates whether it came to checking in with me throughout the stay, sleeping in my room at night if I was scared to fall asleep, making sure that I was comfortable talking to them, spending time with me if I felt uncomfortable. What my friends did was create an atmosphere around me that really felt like I was in the comfort of home, around people that I could consider “family.”

Now, I understand what my parents were talking about when they described how living with the same people, coming home to them, and going through everyday activities with them makes them family. Of course, Mumbai is home, but I am glad to know that being geographically and culturally far from home does not mean I can’t make one here.