Home, Sweet Home

Most students here find their homes comfortably close—not always in Newton but certainly somewhere in Massachusetts. Yet for a select few, home stretches across continents, lying on the other side of the world.
Home, Sweet Home

Most students here find their homes comfortably close—not always in Newton but certainly somewhere in Massachusetts. Yet for a select few, home stretches across continents, lying on the other side of the world.

As a Chinese student, my roots and family remain anchored in China. Staying with host families in the U.S. has its comforts, but the irresistible pull of my hometown’s people and cuisine always leaves a pang of longing in my heart.

For Christmas, I was drawn back to China, eager to reconnect with the land of my childhood after a year-long absence.

In Boston, my constant anchors have been my parents. Their welcoming smiles, greeting me after a draining 14-hour flight, were like a rejuvenating tonic— reviving my weary spirit.

The oil paint of James Yu 24’ (As a junior) by his mother Yan Zhang.

There’s an undeniable magic to home. Having lived independently in the U.S. for over a year, I’ve grown unaccustomed to being around my parents. However, this reunion with my family brought a profound realization: the irreplaceable nature of familial love.

My mother, with her deep passion for oil painting, always finds her peace and joy in the stroke of a brush.

Before my journey here, she would create landscapes on white canvases—depicting rolling hills, dense forests, flowing waters, and a lone figure amidst the scenery. She persistently encouraged me to try oil painting, an invitation I previously declined, finding little interest.

This time, however, I felt a pull to engage in her world. Under her patient guidance, I attempted to capture a starry night. My initial attempt was far from perfect, but the joy in my mother’s eyes was unmistakable. My skill level was irrelevant; she was simply overjoyed to share her passion with her son.

My father, a pillar of strength, always believed in the importance of independence for his son. However, during my recent visit back to China, he surprised me by suggesting an early morning hike up Thousand Buddha Mountain.

I’ve never been particularly keen on navigating rocky terrains, but the rare chance to share this experience with my father was too precious to pass up. So, one brisk morning, we embarked on our climb under a still-dark sky, a path we hadn’t tread in years.

Reaching a vermilion-colored pavilion, we witnessed a tranquil sunrise, slowly illuminating the city below—a serene moment shared in silent awe. Our descent, punctuated by enjoying warm pancake fruits, was filled with his breathless yet excited chatter.

Despite my two-year absence from China, the bonds with my friends have remained steadfast. Through online chats, phone calls, and Facetime, I’ve kept up with their lives, sharing anecdotes and updates. This visit was a special opportunity to reconnect in person, to relive old times before our paths diverged again.

Our reunion was marked by a visit to a beloved ‘pickled fish’ restaurant, a place rich with memories. It was here we had our last junior high school dinner, and now we gathered again, sharing stories and laughter over spicy fish and fragrant rice. In those moments, our diverse futures in France, Germany, the United States, and other corners of the globe seemed momentarily distant.

Among these friends, reuniting with Tina, a close companion since sixth grade, was a highlight. Despite the miles between us, our friendship has thrived. Whether catching a movie, enjoying a meal, or playing board games, every moment we spend together is deeply cherished.

James Yu 24’ with his friend Tina.

If I had to choose one aspect of home I miss the most, it would undoubtedly be the food. Boston has its share of fine Chinese restaurants, yet they pale in comparison to the authentic flavors of China.

I find myself yearning for the hearty hot pots, the soothing fruit teas, and the rich aromas of kebabs. But above all, the home-cooked meals prepared by my parents are incomparable. This time, I seized the opportunity to learn their culinary secrets, amazed at the intricate processes behind the dishes I once took for granted.

A month can seem both expansive and fleeting. Before I knew it, my time in China was drawing to a close, and Boston was on the horizon once again. Returning home may have its complexities, but it enriches my soul in ways far beyond what a mere vacation could offer.

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About the Contributor
James Yu
James Yu, Senior Journalist
James came to Brimmer in 2022 and joined The Gator in 2023. He has a great interest in current international affairs, politics, and economics. In his free time, he is passionate about translation, debate, video game theory, and role-playing.

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