Date September 6, 2023
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A Polaroid, a potato and a portrait: Class of 2027 members share treasured items from home

With their first day of classes in the books, Brown’s newest students are adjusting to living and learning on College Hill — and a few were willing to share comforts from home that they’d brought along.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Although each new student begins at Brown with their own unique background and upbringing, many will at some point share an experience that’s universal to nearly all first-year college students — missing people, places or other parts of home.

Sure, there’s been plenty to keep students on the move: The Class of 2027 has already moved into residence halls, passed through the Van Wickle Gates at Opening Convocation and navigated a busy schedule of Orientation events. And as classes began on Wednesday, Sept. 6, they embarked on their journeys through Brown’s Open Curriculum, carving academic paths through coursework customized to advance their passions and interests.

But when the dust begins to settle and students develop their academic and extracurricular routines, Brown’s first-year students hailing from all 50 states and 76 nations will inevitably crave a taste of home.

In the vignettes below, five new students share their most treasured items they brought to keep them company and stave off homesickness — regardless of whether home is 15 minutes or 15 hours away.

A 'Positive Potato'

tijesuniTijesuni Ademuwagun

Baltimore, Maryland

“My teacher crocheted these little ‘positive potatoes’ and handed them out to everyone in class on the day of our AP calculus exam, which was the most stressful thing of my life. But whenever I felt like stuff was building up and I couldn’t handle it, I just squeezed him, and it felt like everything was going to be OK. When I got here and realized I didn’t have the OG crocheted potato, I was like ‘I need one, quick!’ and ordered this one … technically, it’s an octopus. But he looks like my potato.”

Mom's Polaroid Camera

jeanus holds a polaroid cameraJeanus-Luc Canlapan

Phillipsburg, New Jersey

“My mom loves to take pictures, and I guess it’s something I inherited. She let me take the Polaroid basically everywhere I went over the summer, and I captured a lot of fun, silly and heartwarming memories with my friends and family. In my dorm, I have several of those Polaroids hung up on display, and they make me appreciate and never forget the experiences that I’ve had back home. In a sense, they’re always with me — I can just look into a picture and immerse myself in that memory.”

The Flag of Hawaii

jacob holds a folded hawaiian flagJacob Garcia

Kahului, Hawaii

“It’s kind of like bringing my home to Brown. This flag, especially to the locals and native Hawaiians, means a lot. From an outside perspective, it might just seem like a state flag, but this is actually the flag of the sovereign native Hawaiian kingdom way back from before the overthrow. It affirms where I come from and what kind of people I’m from. Every time I look at the flag, it brings me back home, so I’m not too homesick.”

A Preschool Portrait

ailyn holds a framed photo of her as a preschoolerAilyn Mendoza

Central Falls, Rhode Island

“As I’m transitioning into college and discovering who I am and who I want to become, I want to remind myself that she’s always with me. That little girl is still a part of me, and same for all of my other phases. Looking at this photograph is a nice reminder of that, and it helps ground me, especially when things are bit overwhelming.” 

A Prized Violin

thomas plays a violinThomas Politano

Lynn, Massachusetts

“I’ve always had a very special love for classical music since I was very young, and I played the viola for a long time. When I started to play violin, I realized there was such a greater repertoire of music available for me to play. And I realized at that point that I played these instruments — not for the competition, for the resume — but just because I just love the music. … This violin is actually my music teacher’s. It’s such a gift to bring it to school, especially with this connection that it was made over a hundred years ago in the town that I grew up in. It’s very special to me.”