A Collegiete's Unofficial Guide to Your First Summer Away from Home

I never went to sleep-away camp as a kid, which means that for the past nineteen years I’ve spent every summer at home with my parents. This summer I’m staying in Minneapolis and working full time, so I’m going to have more independence than ever before. Everyone eventually starts spending less time at home, which may seem scary at first but it’s a huge part of growing up. Here are some of my tips for managing homesickness, being independent and taking advantage of your summer.

Get out of your apartment.

I guarantee that staying in your room all summer isn’t going to have any benefit. The best way to get over being homesick is making your new environment feel more like home. We’re so fortunate to live near two amazing cities, so go out and explore! You can always have a piece of your heart in your hometown while also embracing your new home and everything that the Twin Cities have to offer.

Settle into a routine.

For me, one of the most comforting things to do is figure out my schedule and start developing a routine. It makes me feel more confident in myself knowing everything I have to do for the day and having a feeling that I finally have my life together. Routines don’t have to be boring! There’s a level of comfort in knowing that Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings are when you work out and that Thursday nights are open for any plans imaginable. Keeping up with a routine will help you stay organized and keep your sanity during the busy summer months.

Learn some life skills.

Once you move away from home you realize how many things your parents did for you, and while you’re appreciative of everything they did, you also realize that you need to learn some life skills on your own. Make sure you know how to properly clean your apartment and make a few decent meals for yourself. Figure out how to set a budget for yourself and have some fiscal responsibility. Know the area you’re living in and how to get around it. Taking little steps to learn useful skills will help you gain independence and make you feel more confident.

Set up a time to call your parents.

The transition from living at home and constantly seeing your parents to being on your own can be really hard for some people. Before I left for college I set up a time to call my parents (dinner time every Sunday) and it’s one of the best things that we decided on. On Sunday, I look forward to getting to call home and catch up on the week, as well as sending texts to update them on little things that are happening. I would highly recommend having a set time to call or Skype home as a way of keeping in touch with your family as well as having something to look forward to.

Always take time for self-care.

Summer is supposed to be the most relaxing time of the year, but a lot of us know that it can be crazy stressful if you’re juggling multiple jobs and volunteering, as well as trying to keep up a good social life and consistent sleep schedule. As with any time of the year, maintaining your mental health is a must, which can be accomplished in many ways such as exercising, starting a new hobby or taking the time to relax and turn your brain off for a little while.  

Connect with your college friends.

Just like getting out of your apartment, keeping in contact with your college friends during the summer is a good way to make your new location feel more like home. If you’re starting a new job, make some friends in the workplace. Isolating yourself will only make you feel more homesick and worsen your mental health. So find out who’s staying here for the summer and get connected!

Figure out the problem.

Are you just feeling homesick or is there something else going on? If you’re feeling down it’s important to identify why you’re feeling a certain way, whether it’s due to missing your family or a deeper issue.

The first summer on your own can be both exciting and scary, but you’ll become a more confident and independent woman afterwards. So have fun this summer! Get out and explore your city and take advantage of your free time.