A year ago, I flew to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in journalism. The desire was to learn more about this growing obsession of the industry with ‘data’ and at the same time, experience a different cultural space. However, in order to accomplish that, I had to leave what I called home. Born and brought up in Delhi, India, I had never truly lived away from home.
Even after three months of my arrival, I was regretting my decision. My sources won’t call be back, my pitches would never get approved, and I simply missed home. I was in ‘New York City,’ the city everyone was crazy about, yet, I never felt more alone in my life.
Then I started trying to build a new home around me. There were friends who were going through the same, I hung out with them more. I had already seen the touristy bits of New York and had no enthusiasm for that. So, I started doing the non-touristy things. Possibly the thing I liked most about the city were the communities you would find. And for someone like me who is deeply excited by technology, it is one of the best places you could live in. While, I mostly had classes in the evening, whenever I didn’t, I made a point to go to a tech meetup. There was so much to learn, so many people to meet and being out there was the best way to do it. I remember, my obsession with tech meetups in the city started with an Engadget Expand event. And it was the happiest I had been in the city. One thread was all I needed to rediscover the feeling of home.
A month ago, I moved to St. Petersburg, a small city of around 250,000 people in Florida. I came to a city I knew no one in to pursue a fellowship at Poynter. I thought I have a year in the United States, why not take the risk and experience different cities? I found a place on AirBnb. Set almost like a European hostel, my humble abode is a place of varied cultures. Someone drives an Uber and makes YouTube prank videos, another person is here for an internship and has travelled to 29 different countries. From living with a guy with a big ass monster truck, to someone who overcame her foster care past to build a future she wanted, in a span of one month, these people have taught me a lot. Although there are not many tech meetups around here, I found home in the people I live with. I feel I am with family.
As it turns out, adulthood ended up in a conundrum. I have a sense of home in all these cities. While Delhi is the place with bits I associate all my friends and family with, New York is the place where I rediscovered my love for tech and the wonders it could do for journalism. St. Pete on the other hand the place I did my first job. It is the home where I first took my steps towards adulthood. Each one of them is a home of its own.
I miss Delhi and I miss New York. I have a feeling, once I leave St. Pete, I will miss it as well. Although in the back of my head I know I won’t truly belong to just one place ever again, it is good to know that I get to associate different places as home.