In the fall of 2015, I wrote an article for Ouachita’s online Signal about transitioning from my lifelong home of Singapore to become a college student in the small town of Arkadelphia. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the newness of everything; I took pride in my many new firsts, including square dancing at Barn Bash, swimming in Lake Catherine and going to bonfires with my friends. The version of me who wrote that article was wide-eyed, excited and finding her footing in a very new culture. All I could see were the differences between home and Arkansas, and while I embraced all the wonderful things Ouachita had to offer, sometimes I felt so homesick that it hurt.
It’s surreal to think that it’s been two years since I wrote that article and that I’m graduating from Ouachita in December. I take pride in seeing the Singapore flag flying in the International Flag Plaza, but I don’t feel as foreign as I used to. My older sister Roxanne recently visited the campus, and as I showed her around, I started to get sentimental. The second floor lobby in Georgia Hickingbotham Hall is where my friends and I would gather after classes most weekdays last year and have our best talks. The Speer Writing Center, where I’ve worked for the past year, is one of my favorite places on campus not only because I love helping other students, but because I love the hilarious, kind and interesting people I work with there. Making Sonic runs, hanging out in the Bugtruck (a.k.a. the English department), sitting by the windows in the caf and hurrying across the bridge from the Student Village to get to class have all been routine parts of my college experience. In my head, it’s not “Singapore is home, and Arkadelphia is this cool new place I’m getting to know” anymore. I’ve gotten used to life here.
Of course, when I really think about it, there are a ton of things about Singapore that I desperately miss. Singapore’s a big city (and small country) that’s always on the go. A short walk from my apartment building brings me to a stretch of restaurants whose menus vary from brunch food to Italian food to Singaporean food to Indian food. Whenever I have time, I can take a bus or train downtown to watch movies, shop or karaoke with my friends (I really miss karaoke!). But it’s gotten to the point where I feel at home in Arkadelphia too. I love living with my friends. I love looking out at the lake on the drive to Hot Springs. I love sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful weather. I love all of the English professors, and I love all of the wonderful friends I’ve made.
Now, when I fly into the Little Rock airport after a break, a part of me feels like it’s coming home. It’s sad to think that Ouachita will only be my home for one more semester. Singapore’s great, but so is Arkadelphia. So thank you for having me, Ouachita. I like adding a little bit of Singapore to this place, and I like the bit of Arkansas it adds to me, too.
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