When you walk into Rebecca’s room, you can instantly recognize the importance of her family and friends in her life. Living off-campus can feel isolating, especially in the first year, but Rebecca keeps her loved ones close by decorating her room with images and reminders of them.
On the wall opposite her bed, there are strings of photos and fairy lights that add warmth to the space. When she looks at these photos, Rebecca is reminded of the important people in her life. “My grandmother tells me that you meet a lot of people in your life and some are meant to be your companions, some are for you to look back on and reminisce and remember, and then there are some people for growing. A lot of these people are with me right now and some of them I don’t talk to anymore, but we’ve made a lot of really good memories and some really helped me grow as a person. I look at the photos as much as possible. It’s good motivation and encouragement for me since I don’t have family here. It’s a good reminder that they’re still with me.”
As we talked more with Rebecca, we discovered the many ways in which she uses objects which are personally significant, like photos and souvenirs, to make her room into a welcoming and personal space.
How Rebecca Uses Space
The previous tenants had used this as a bedroom, although the space was originally a dining room. My mom had a general idea of where things should go because she’s very aware of interior design. She wanted me to have a desk by the window because I think it’s better for your mental state and since I have a really small window, I have to utilize it as much as possible. Then everything else fit into its own place. I’ve thought a lot about trying to rearrange it, but I wouldn’t know where anything would go.
Both of my parents lived in Japan for quite a long time, so growing up I had a lot of Japanese influences at home. We would eat a lot on the floor and we would also read together on the floor and do homework there. I just feel really comfortable having a little space on the floor where I can study. I made sure that I would have this space because last year in my Randall dorm room, there were those cold tile floors…
There used to be a hole in this wall [left photo] , which we covered with a board that’s nailed and taped down, which is also why it’s not very soundproof. My mom decided that she would build me a closet because she’s pretty great like that! Those are window curtains in front. Originally we were thinking of cutting them, but I liked how they looked folded over–it adds a little decoration.
I have to credit the whiteboard by my desk to my mom. She bought a lot of wood from Home Depot [when I moved off campus] and this was a leftover piece. There’s a special liquid that you can paint over surfaces to make it into a whiteboard–it’s not magnetic at all. I like to use it for writing reminders for myself.
The floor lamp is also another influence from my mom–she has a really big influence on my life. She really cares about light and previously in my room in California we didn’t really have a proper lamp, so I’d be studying in my room and she’d be bringing as many lamps as possible into my room from all over the house to make sure that my eyes didn’t go bad. This one lights up the whole desk, so I think it’s for her ease of mind that I’m won’t go blind. I have the same one in my room in California.
Q: What is the meaning of home to you?
A: I don’t think I’ve actually figured out the meaning of home, but I also don’t mind if I never do. Even without knowing what home means to me, I’ve managed to find home in a lot of places. I spent most of my life in Taiwan, around 14 years, then I went to high school in California. I felt at home in California especially because I have family there. Since I was a kid, I would spend school vacations in America.
Q: Does this place feel like home to you?
A: I like to call it an “almost home”, so it’s not quite yet home. A big part of this not feeling like home is knowing that there will be a definite departure from it. Also I have no family on the East Coast, so that might add to it a little bit.
Q: What object in the room is most important to you?
A: That Winnie-the-Pooh pillow. I take it with me everywhere like a little kid. I got it on a family trip to Tokyo Disneyland. I’ve had it for so long that it’s a very important constant in my life. I feel like life is so chaotic and ever-changing that you really need that one thing to hold onto, even if it is a really old Winnie-the-Pooh plushie. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve brought from home. That really represents the child in me.