Yesterday I moved out of my student room.

Even though we had already moved most of my stuff and I had already moved in our new place in Rotterdam, yesterday was the day I really moved out of my student room. Already as I was walking up to the flat from the parking lot, I saw that the rooms which first had housed my friends were completely empty – the photographs were taken from the walls and repainted in a meaningless shade of white, the furniture had made room for silence and the inhabitants had left. The doors, on which we had written quotes and stories from the past three years were all white and clean again; the smell of nail polish remover lingered in the hallway.

My room wasn’t that much of a shock to me anymore – it hadn’t felt like my room for a couple of weeks now. All of the stuff that made the tiny dorm room my home had already gone to our new home, which is slowly but surely starting to feel like my own now. The room that I had lived, studied and grown up in over the past few years felt like a chore to be completed at this point. Something to deal with in just an afternoon, to strip of everything personal and to say a quick goodbye to. I thought it would feel like just a chore; taking down those last few pictures on the walls, emptying the fridge, and asking my neighbors for nail polish remover and a stool to climb on and finally reach the ceiling.

And in the moment it did. As I was emptying and cleaning my room, finally closing the door behind me and driving away from the flat, it did still feel like a chore. As we unpacked my stuff in our new place, I only thought of how all this stuff and all of my shoes were going to fit into our home, instead of thinking of the home I left behind.

But late at night, me moving out of my student room didn’t feel like a chore anymore. For the first time, it hit me. The place that I had called home for three years, both the messy room and the people surrounding it, isn’t my home anymore. Only now I’m starting to realize what that means and how it makes me feel. Looking back on my three years at university and leaving in the student dorms, I realize how much that time has shaped me. It was my first home away from home, which I had to built all by myself, and also the home that I grew into myself. I feel like, during these three years, I have grown up and become the person that I am now. I made friends for life, learned enough about Noam Chomsky for an entire lifetime and I met the love of my life – all while living in that tiny, messy and pink dorm room. And that transformation, that final realization of yourself, is linked to the home I left and the people who used to surround it. And that does hurt a little bit.