Germany to New York: What It’s Like Moving Halfway Across the World and How to Adjust

Leaving home to attend college is intimidating enough in itself, but imagine moving halfway across the world to do just that. When you have received your final acceptance letter, it is now time to decide where you want to spend the next four, or maybe five, years of your life. There are a variety of factors you need to consider when making an essentially life changing decision. Which school is offering you the largest financial aid package? Where do your parents want you to go? Which school has the best residence halls? Or, last but not least, how close or far away from home would you have to move? A lot of students take college as the opportunity to move as far away from home and leave behind who they were in high school. However, how far away would you be willing to actually go?


When it came to decide where I wanted to apply to college, I kept a very open mind and made sure to apply to schools both in the U.S. and in Europe. I spent the last eight years of my life living in Germany, but I also had relatives and my two older sisters drawing me to America. Europe was, and still is, home, but I wanted to explore my options, no matter where they might lead me. I had to remind myself, even if I got rejected from my number one school, no matter where I ended up, I would make the most of my experience.


After months of waiting for the last of my acceptance (or rejection) letters, the very last one I received came from the one and only, Manhattan College. By the time I got my letter, it came as a bit of a surprise because I was not expecting to hear back for another two weeks. I was overjoyed when I got the letter and I could not believe I now had the opportunity to move to New York in the fall. Ever since I was little, I had dreams of going to school in the big city, and even if at the time I thought that meant Julliard, I just thought, this is my chance. However, this excitement came to a sudden halt when I started to consider the logistics of actually leaving home and moving to New York. I am one of three siblings, and now it was my turn to leave home and go to college, but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t imagine leaving. It was bad enough having to  spend my senior year of high school as an only child while my two older sisters were away at school, so how could I now leave my parents with an empty house? On top of that, what made it even worse was I would be moving almost four thousand miles away. This definitely left me stumped. I ended up in conflict with myself as a result of trying to convince myself I needed to choose a college because I wanted to go there, not based off of what anyone else was telling me. At the same time, I also could not imagine myself moving that far away from home. Once this back and forth came to an end, my final decision landed on MC.


Although I could not be happier with my decision, I have to say my transition has not been the easiest and in some aspects, still continues to be a struggle I face everyday. In the beginning, no matter how close or far away you may move from home, I believe everyone can agree they experience some kind of homesickness. You begin to miss all the little things you never realized were significant until they are no longer there and it may come as quite a bit of a shock. However, as my freshman year comes to an end, there are a few little tips and tricks I have picked up along the way that have made the road a little less rocky.


TIP #1: Communication is key. Whether you prefer talking on the phone, Facetime, or texting, staying in contact with your family is crucial to help mitigate the effects of homesickness. In my experience, these feelings can hit you out of nowhere when you least expect them. It was definitely hard sometimes knowing that I could not call my mom in the middle of the night because of the time difference, but I knew I still had my sisters and my best friends just a phone call away.


TIP #2: Get involved on campus. When you first get to college, you may find it difficult putting yourself out there and clicking with new people. Therefore, one solution I can offer is to get involved. Although you might hear this from everyone, that implies there must be some truth to it. Clubs and on campus organizations are the perfect way to interact and connect with people who share similar interests with you. Who knows, maybe you will find your next best friend or your family away from home. You never know until you try!


TIP #3: Take care of yourself. Speaking from personal experience, it does you no good if you are trying to do a million things at once with no energy and no time to rest. No matter how stressed out you may be or have a million things on your to do list, you have to remember to take care of yourself. Whether that means going to bed early one night, watching an episode of your favorite show, or taking a walk, set time aside to just be with yourself and destress.


TIP #4: Remind yourself, things will get better. One of the biggest struggles I find a lot of people have when adjusting to college is accepting that things may not always go as planned. You may get stuck with a roommate you do not get along with, or end up taking a class you really do not enjoy, but you have to remember this rough patch is not going to last forever. It is important to remind yourself to keep an open mind and try to make the best of every situation. Although this is definitely easier said than done, with this in mind, things will start to look up and change for the better when you least expect it.


TIP #5: Reach out. If you are still having a hard time opening up and finding your place on campus, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to a support group or counselor on campus. Everyone goes through rough patches and adjusting to college life may be harder for some more than others but you have to remember, you are not alone. There are resources on campus who are there to listen and support you in anything that you need. Sometimes we forget how crucial it is to open up is to our wellbeing until we do and realize how good it feels.