I Moved 2,722 Miles Away for University...And You Can Too

I was 12-years-old when I decided I wanted to be a journalist.

It was the accumulation of many experiences in my life and who I was starting to become. It seemed like the best fit for me and has been my dream ever since. The only question was: where should I go to university?

I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, and at the time there wasn’t an option for a journalism degree in my home province. I had to leave B.C. behind to get an education in the field I wanted, and I accepted it. If I wanted to achieve my dreams, I would have to make sacrifices.

I applied to journalism programs at universities all across Ontario. The day I got into Ryerson was one of the best days of my life, and that was the first time moving away actually felt real. 

How to prepare

I’m not sure if there’s just one way to prepare for such a big life change that works for everyone, but this is what helped me:

      1. Talk about it

Some days I was so scared to move away, and some days I was incredibly excited. There was no way to tell what I would feel the next day and it was terrifying. However, I expressed all these emotions to my friends and family because I needed to say how I was feeling out loud, and it helped me become less afraid.

Talking about your goals can be helpful in getting anxiety off of your chest. Hearing what your loved ones think will help you work through all the emotions that you might be feeling. 

Not everyone is the same. Others I know chose to not talk about moving nearly at all because that’s how they coped with the idea, and that’s more than OK too. 

      2. Take packing one day at a time.

Not everything needs to be ready in a day. You can’t pack up your life in just one day (trust me, I tried). There’s a lot to consider: How long will you be gone? Are you packing in suitcases or boxes? Are you leaving some stuff at home and just bringing the essentials with you?

These questions don’t have to be answered overnight. I lost sleep trying to plan out packing before it was even happening. Choose one goal for the day and focus on that, for instance, “Today I’ll pack up the shirts and sweaters I want to bring with me” instead of, “Today I’m packing up my whole closet.”

Also, involve your loved ones. As hard as it was for my family and best friends to see me go, packing things together made us bond in new ways. They weren’t just on the outside watching, they got to help, ask me questions, and be a part of a big moment in my life. There’s something about packing tape and cardboard boxes that brings people together.  

      3. Do your research

I was moving to a city that I had only visited once before, the year prior for less than 12 hours. I felt like I knew nothing about where I was living for the next eight months.

So I took matters into my own hands and watched virtual tours of my residence hall, looked at the Ryerson campus on Google Maps, and studied all the cool stores and coffee shops in the area to get me excited about other things too, instead of being consumed with fear.

I would recommend getting to know where you’re moving a little bit ahead of time. Obviously the only way to truly know what it’ll be like is to live there, but getting a feel of the surroundings before I made the move eased my anxiety.

I made it … now what?

Once I moved and was all settled in, I started to miss home. Not as much as I was expecting, but it was rather difficult some days. I knew it was normal and to be expected, but it still sucked. However, there were things that helped get through the everyday homesickness.

Besides the obvious things like making friends, going out, and keeping busy, I would recommend calling your family. I called them every day, but I know for some people this doesn’t work, so I would say call when you can. It reminded me of where I come from and calmed me down from whatever stress I was feeling. FaceTime is also super underrated and helped me feel less like I was missing out on life’s big moments, like my baby brother turning 16, or my parent’s anniversary. 

I recommend re-discovering old passions. I dove headfirst into old passions of mine, not just to keep me busy, but also to maintain my drive and motivation. I made mood boards, wrote poetry, explored the city, read books I loved, and started going to the gym again. This made me feel so much happier and made the transition a million times easier. 

Everything will be okay

Moving away from home is not easy, especially with the stress of school on top of it. It means facing your feelings, overcoming fears you may have, and becoming noticeably and incredibly independent almost overnight.

But it’s also so rewarding and can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Making the transition is hard, but take it one day at a time, lean on your family and friends, take full advantage of revolutionary technology (thank you FaceTime), and before you know it, moving away won’t feel so scary. It will make total sense why this is your path, and you’ll see that you can do it.