Attending a huge state school as an out of state student is hard. Really hard. For the past three and a half weeks, I have been learning how to balance my academics, social life, and extracurriculars with the added weight of being in a new place away from my family. Even after getting into the swing of things, I still miss my home, my family, and my long-distance boyfriend who live in my home state of North Carolina. So, here are a few tips on how I have made my new school feel a bit more like home, and how I mitigate my homesickness in college.
Tip #1: Be open to new experiences and put yourself out there!
After my mom left from dropping me off at college, I felt lost and alone. I would look at the pictures hanging on my wall and hyper-focus on how far I was from my pets, my family, and my boyfriend. My roomate invited me to get lunch with her and some of her friends once we settled in, and my first instinct was to say no. I wanted to sit in my room and FaceTime my boyfriend and friends back home.
Despite how homesick you feel, you have to go out and brave your new home. Attend club fairs, interest groups, and research communities of people who share similar interests as you. This will allow you to feel a sense of familiarity as you can continue hobbies and interests you loved back home, all while meeting new people at college!
Tip #2: Try new things
As much as continuing activities you enjoyed at home is an awesome way to have a continued sense of familiarity in a new place, you have to balance it with new experiences as well. I have to admit, this was both daunting and scary for me when I first got to college. There were so many opportunities and communities to join, I had no clue where to begin. Additionally, I was already in a new place, away from everything I was accustomed to, so why would I want more new things? Well, as scary as something new can be, it can also be really, really fun.
When I was in high school, I had always thought about pursuing art more seriously. I wasn’t able to, as art classes never fit into my schedule. So, when I arrived at Rutgers, I joined our RAD club: Rutgers Art and Design. As nerve-wracking as it was to enter a new sphere, I was so excited to try something new in a new place. You have a fresh start as an out of state student, so use that to your advantage and get yourself out there!
Tip #3: Home is just a call away
Being away from home is difficult. Yet, thanks to the wonderful technology we have these days, your friends and family are only a call away! Even though you are physically apart from everyone back home, you can contact anyone you want at the touch of a button. Every Sunday night, my mom and I take 15-20 minutes to FaceTime each other. I personally enjoy facetimes more than calls when I can as it helps me to see the face of whoever I’m talking to. Whoever you miss back home misses you just as much, if not more!
College can get busy, and it’s easy to fall into a hole of homesickness. However, I guarantee a quick FaceTime to someone back home will make both of your days ten times better. I encourage you to make new friends at college, and truly take it as a fresh start in such a new place. At the same time, staying in contact with your friends and family in your home state really helps you feel a little less alone when your miles away.
Tip #4: Make your dorm feel like home
Part of the reason I get homesick is not just from missing the people back home, but my physical house. Adjusting to dorm life was difficult as I wasn’t just in a new location, but my room was different than the one back home. Something that really helped me was bringing elements of my room back home to my dorm! I printed a ton of photos of my family, friends, boyfriend, and pets to hang on my walls. Coming back to my dorm after a long day and seeing familiar faces really helps me feel less homesick, and reminds me of all the memories I share with the people (and pets!) in my photos.
I also chose a few small trinkets from my bedroom to bring to college with me as well. This included a lego bird I made with my boyfriend, my favorite Jellycat stuffed animal, and my Nebula Funko Pop. Bringing these along helped my dorm feel more like my bedroom back home which brings me comfort. I truly recommend taking the time and effort to decorate your dorm with things from home, and things that remind you of home.
So, those were four tips to help you feel a bit more at home as an out of state student. I truly understand how scary, lonely, and daunting it is to go to school in a different state than home. But, you will get through it, and enjoy it too! The first week was so difficult, but everything I mentioned in the four tips above transformed my experience here at Rutgers. You got this girl!