I had been packing my bags all day, seeing my empty room made me feel weird. Everything I had in this room fit into only two bags and I somehow expected it to be a lot more. I had been living in this place for the past few months and, even though I was not very comfortable there, I had made it my home.

Home is a very strange term to me…


Most of my life I had lived with my family, it was always me taking up space in someone else’s home. I never felt like I belonged; I just wanted to find a place I could call mine. In some strange way leaving this apartment was leaving the only place where I had a space only to myself: what I’ve always wanted.

Before I came to Fayetteville, I had spent most of my life in the city of my birth: La Paz, Bolivia. I had lived in my Mom’s house until I was around 17. Back then, I had a big argument with her that made me move in with my Dad. In my Mom’s house everything was easy; I always had food, my own room and people who took care of me. My Dad was going through a rough time and he lived in a one-room apartment so I had to sleep on the floor.

All of this was a great change for me. I had to learn to be more independent and take care of myself. I learned that in bad situations you have to do whatever it takes to survive. The problem still remained though: I still did not know what it felt to have a home.


I went back to my Mom’s place my first year of college in Bolivia. This time though I did not take things for granted. I was able to get a job as an English tutor for high school kids and tried to be as independent as possible. At the end of my second year in college, I was given the opportunity to study abroad as an exchange student at the University of Oklahoma. I moved into a college apartment where I lived with three other exchange students.

At first, I thought this would be my opportunity to make a place for myself, but that semester was a living hell.

My roommates were all there for the fun, they did not care about school at all and spent most of their time partying. My apartment was constantly filled with strangers having drinks and making noise. The place was always a mess and I even had things stolen from me there. I dreaded every living moment I spent there and I could not wait to go back to Bolivia and my comfort zone.


Oklahoma is where I applied to transfer to Arkansas. Knowing my bad experiences from the past, I tried to have a different attitude towards the place I lived in. I had good and bad roommates my first two years in Arkansas, but never as bad as the ones I had in Oklahoma. I think my attitude changed and I spent more time trying to make wherever I was my home.

Now that this journey has come to an end, I am back in Bolivia trying to figure out what to do next with my life. I know that I should try and feel at home wherever life takes me. I will try to not let the different circumstances that surround my life define the comfort I can find in the place where I live. They say that home is where the heart is and, fortunately, my heart is always with me.

Julio Gavilano is a graduating senior from La Paz, Bolivia by way of Miami, Florida. He also writes for the gaming fan site BlizzPro … Read full bio Leave a comment below.