Campus Spotlight, Student Life

A peace of home

For most McGill students who hail from outside Montreal, starting university means leaving the place that we have come to call home. When packing for college, we carefully select items that remind us of home and that we can turn to whenever we feel homesick. Arriving in a new city amidst a sea of strangers can make you feel overwhelmed and alienated, but having these items can bring us feelings of peace and comforting memories.

Yet, what is home? Is it a place, a person, a scent, a feeling? Everyone has a different meaning of home; it is usually not tied to a single place or experience, but rather a collection of memories linked to different places and people. 

Tracy Berbari (U1 Management):  Lebanon  

Laughter, family, calm, excitement, peace, fresh air, and love are all things that Berbari associates with the word “home.” 

Lebanon had always previously brought her these feelings. Its breathtaking views and nature brought her peace amidst the country’s hectic financial crisis. Because of the October Revolution, she and her family were forced to pack up the essentials and leave at the end of 2020. Though she does not have a specific item that reminds her of home, there is a place in Montreal that transports her back to Lebanon. 

“On a summer day, a kind man, who was my first friend in Canada, suggested that we take a tour of Montreal,” Berbari said. “Our first stop was the Bèlvédere d’Outremont. After a long walk up the hill, we finally arrived at the top, and when I saw the view I was mesmerized. We were surrounded by all the lovely elements that mother nature had to offer: the birds were chirping, the flowers were blooming, and at that moment in time, I reminisced [about] all of my childhood memories in Lebanon. Suddenly, the move to Canada wasn’t so scary, it felt like home, my home.”

The McGill Tribune / Tracy Berbari

Charlotte Mineret (U1 Arts): Belgium

Having moved multiple times during her time in Belgium, and now recently to Montreal, Mineret understands that a place isn’t the most important thing when it comes to feeling at home, but rather the connections formed with the people around her. 

While she has brought numerous objects from home—including delectable Belgian cheese—the one item Mineret could not have left behind is her horse-shaped glass statue, gifted by her grandparents. Every time she looks at it, she is reminded of her childhood and of her time in Brussels with her family. 

“We went to this place where they made these glass statues and I saw them make it from scratch,” Mineret said. “It has always been on my desk in Brussels and it’s on my desk here in Montreal. It makes my dorm feel more personal and like a home.”

The McGill Tribune / Charlotte Mineret

Manon Fillon Ashida (U1 Arts): Tokyo/Belgium

Before coming to Montreal, Manon used to think that home was associated with one’s citizenship. Being both French and Japanese, she previously never considered Belgium as her home. However, moving to Montreal made her realize that Belgium is where she has created some of her most cherished memories.

While she did not bring many items back from home—besides tons of clothes—she did bring the picture that her best friend gave her for her fifth birthday. 

“I had just moved from Tokyo to Belgium and she was both my neighbour and my first friend,” Ashida said. “She gave me this picture for my fifth birthday and I have always had it on my desk. It’s an item of great significance to me because I have known and spent so much time with her. It reminds [me of] my time in Belgium and reminds me of home.” 

The McGill Tribune / Manon Fillon Ashida
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