A Home Pt. 2

Philippians 3:20

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”


College life is unique. Many students have no conception of what may happen before they reach their freshman year at a college or university. The so called “college experience” includes dorms, parties, study sessions, late night study breaks, and all- nighters before finals. What college students lack, however, is something essential to long-term mental health. College students lack a permanent, or even semi-permanent home. First, college students have a fascinating concept of community in college dorms. Many typical dorms are contained in buildings with hallways, each with separate rooms for two to four people to live in. Of course, how many students living in one room depends on the building, the school, and whether single rooms are available. However, students generally live close together in a forced community.

This is a college student’s dwelling. It lacks permanence in that the students will not stay there for an entire year, but only the months of the school year. This causes an interesting pandemonium, as the students are both in forced proximity with others to whom they bear no previous relation, and the students understand that the area they dwell in is not permanent. In fact, dorms are made to be temporary. Another intrinsic factor of many dorms is the fact that they are ugly. Not in the subjective sense necessarily, but rooms which have been specifically made to maximize space and functionality have the tendency to become more like a prison than a ‘home’. Botton notes that two ideas which often become connected are the ideas “of home and of prettiness” (Botton 123). Before going any further, first the idea of a home must be defined. In Architecture of Happiness, Botton inscribes the concept of home as “merely any place that succeeds in making more consistently available to us the important truths which the wider world ignores, or which our distracted and irresolute selves have trouble holding on to” (Botton 123).

Botton is saying that a home is the place which intrinsically represents the values the student desires in life.



By Botton’s definition, for a place to become a home, it must reflect something not only important, but also the values of some ideal to which an individual aspires. The process of finding or creating this space could take a lifetime, or a few months. In the case of a home, its aesthetic depends on the individual in question. In any case, these values to which an individual aspires are not likely to appear in the monotonous stone, cement, or brick walls of a college dorm room. The effect of having a repetitive, systematic layering of rooms creates a sense of ambiguousness and uncertainty. The uncertainty of losing those values to which one aspires. Perhaps the sudden lack of familiarity is what prompts many students to regain a sense of gratitude looking back at their old homes. On the other hand, the loss of perceived values may come as a relief to some students, allowing them space to develop personal values; given the freedom to structure their surroundings accordingly. When speaking of values, some virtues do appear in the dorm setting.

Virtues of repetitiveness, structure, strict formality, and the precision of a scientific experiment. Although at face value none of the previous concepts are bad, many of them do not line up with values associated with home for many students. People looking to grow will often cater to individuality, learning, inspiration, love, peace, and normality. The values do not match. The result is different for each student. One thing which has always been the case for many students, the need to own the space. Students will decorate, rearrange, and organize their room to make it as unique as possible.

Unconsciously, college students attempt to create and establish a home. 

The second nuance found in college students is the lost sense of belonging which can only be found when one is surrounded by their personal values. This is examined by Botton through the examples of the concept of art through the perspective of values. By today’s standards, many are liable to simply ignore the idealistic art forms which appeared in the artwork of the past. However, the art was not meant to reflect reality, but rather lift humanity up to a higher standard through edification. Botton notes that the purpose of Veronesi and Athenian work was that, “sculptures and buildings were to assist us in bringing the best of ourselves to the fore. They were to embalm our highest aspirations” (Botton 137).

Even unconsciously, people of all walks of life attempt to surround themselves with what they aspire to become. Take a typical high schooler or college student. Imagine what that person’s room would be covered in. One might picture colors, band posters, artwork, or perhaps a favorite pop-star taped to the wall. These things are aspirations. As Bottom explains, “the work ‘idealization’ refers simply to an aspiration towards perfection, an objective with which no one, not even the most rational of beings, may ever be completely unacquainted” (Botton 140). What children, teens, and young adults do is simply a reflection of the human need to be surrounded by what their values. In this case, the idealization is taking a form, a picture, a story, a poem, or even a poster. By doing this, college students not only put an individual spin on a space, they also surround themselves with values.

From Botton’s point of view, students seek “at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty” (Botton 152). In the end, people attempt to emulate those objects which affect them in some way.


The last concept of college life is a lack of permanence which exists when one has two dwellings, yet no real home. College students by necessity do not live permanently in a single location. In fact, many students exist in a limbo between their parent’s home and a college dorm. The result is a lack of permanence. When split between two spaces, neither one can be referred to as a true home, unless one is more of a temporary venue and the other the true home. Many cases require the student to be in a transition period between living with their parents and living on their own.

Although this is beneficial, the resulting situation appears rather odd. What comes into existence is two dwellings, both temporary, with no real space belonging to the student. Overall, the situation leaves the student with a strenuous situation. Overcrowded dorm halls to which a student may be a part also add to a general feeling of incongruity. A normal occurrence in such a situation is the clash of wills and occupations, which, according to Yi-Fu Tuan, “generate a sense of crowding” (Tuan 64). The result is an auspiciously crowded living environment, combined with a lack of community and general mindset of displacement. For the college student, these odds appear stacked against them. However, people will give up a lot for a chance at success. After the fact, students must come to an acknowledgement of self- establishment despite surroundings and lack of home.

bofur bilbo faint


From lack of permanent lodging, loss of values reflected by architecture, and even the lack of camaraderie in most of college life; these seem to give students a choice. The students can allow themselves to be hurt without their living space, or make their way to creating their own home. Every student must independently react to circumstance, which perhaps explains why the results from collegiate experiences differ widely.

However, each aspect examines a piece of home missing from the general college experience. Students may replicate, or ignore the absence of such pieces of home. In the end, there is nothing as unique as college life.

Be blessed today.



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