The first words I hear in the morning are my roommates saying, “Good morning,” to me in Turkish. The moment I open my eyes, I speak in my native language to my American friends, still not processing that I am not in Turkey anymore. I come to my senses a few seconds later and switch back to English, laughing about it together with them.
I get dressed and walk through the hallway, rushing to my class, as a floormate yells, “I love your pants,” putting a smile on my face. I check the whiteboards hanging on the doors of my neighbors’ rooms: “Write something positive for someone else.” One response says, “You are loved.” I can feel it.
Going down the staircase, I see a group of my guy friends leaving to get breakfast together. We make plans for the weekend on our way out and I dash out of Hodgdon, still trying to make it to class, even if not on time. I get to class with a smile on my face even though I was five minutes late, trying to at least look like I rushed.
After my classes end, I get to my floor and check the whiteboards once again. I remember the first week when everyone on this floor was a stranger to me. I remember seeing that I was not alone as an international student after reading the list of countries showing where my floormates were from: Honduras, India, Hong Kong, United States, Canada, Nigeria, Lebanon and so on.
I now see the communal bathroom not as a downside of dorm life but as an opportunity to have a conversation with a friend while carrying out my nightly routine. I now see the space in front of the storage room as a kind of nook where I can chat with my floormates until the morning hours. I now see that everything is different from how I saw it the first time I set eyes on Hodgdon Hall.
I love waking up to Post-it notes filled with encouragement, happiness and well wishes on my birthday. I love getting fresh air with my dormmate in the middle of the night. I love having Sunday brunch that lasts the entire day with my dorm hall neighbor.
I love saying “İyi geceler” just before I go to sleep, and I love that my roommates say “İyi geceler” back to me.
Being 7,758 kilometers, or 4,821 miles, away from Istanbul, I did not think I could feel this at home when I was applying to Tufts.
I love you, Hodgdon. And yes, this is a love letter to you.