Minneapolis has been my adopted home for about 15 years. My family moved here just before I entered middle school, and for an 11-year old having to change schools and meet new friends, I was bitter/upset/confused and all of the other emotions pre-teens can go through with big life changes.
It took me about 10 years for me to feel comfortable with calling Minneapolis “home”, but when I was finally ready, it felt right.
“Home” is a relatively loose word that can change meaning depending on the context in which it’s used. Home can mean the house you grew up in with your parents or it can mean the 2-bedroom apartment you’ve shared with your roommate for the last two years. To me, home isn’t a specific place, it’s an idea.
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks away from home and traveled to Seoul, South Korea and a few more places along the way, and just returned last week to catch Fall at its peak in Minneapolis — my favorite time of year in this city.
Both my parents are from Seoul and all my relatives from my mom’s side of the family reside in Korea, as well as many friends I made from undergrad, so it’s always a treat when I get to visit and be surrounded by people whom I love and miss — kind of like going home.
My philosophy on traveling to a different city is pretty simple: to stay for a while and try to mimic some aspects of the daily life of its citizens. Eat where the locals eat, go shopping at the local market for fresh produce, try to find a seat on the subway during rush hour, etc.
I think it’s the best way to immerse yourself in another culture while going at your own pace. There’s nothing wrong with going back to a place you’ve already visited before, you’re just adding pages to your memory book of that place.
Traveling to new places can be scary at times, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the language and other cultural differences. I believe that if you demonstrate a positive curiosity to learning, and if you show respect to the city and its citizens and culture, this foreign place will all of a sudden feel a little bit closer to home than you think.
Going through photos and reflecting on my trip, I’m reminded how relaxed I was and how I’d love to be back there already. No matter how long you’re gone, your trips always seem like they’ve been cut just a little short. But what comforts me is that we’re all neighbors - my home can be home to anybody else.
Life’s short and there’s a lot to see and do — so don’t be static. Go meet somebody new and try something you haven’t done. Even if you don’t go to a new city, you can still make the everyday new by making small changes. Take a new route home from work, or go to that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try for the last 6 months.
A city is made by its people, its citizens, but a home is made by its people as well.
You know, like homies.
Here’s to coming home.
- Roy -