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4 Things I Learned as an out-of-State Student

Okay, I’ll admit that the past month as a freshman has been the craziest. I never knew it would be this emotional and action-packed when I received my acceptance letter. 

Coming from Northern Virginia, I had no clue what I was getting myself into as an out-of-state student. I thought life on campus would be easy, and that adapting would never be a problem. Let me be the first to tell you that I was wrong in every way imaginable. While life away from home was hard, I managed to learn some life changing lessons. 

It is okay to be homesick

People always say that once you have settled, you start to become less and less homesick. My response to this is: false!

It has been a month and some change now, and I still feel like I have left my home just a week ago! While it is a little easier to not focus on it now that class is in session, I still get very homesick at times—especially in stressing times. I have had countless times where I have called home and stated, “I don’t want to be here” due to the situations I was in. However, being able to call home and hear them cheer me on continued to push me through whatever I was going through. 

It is hard to leave everything behind to start a new life in a new area, but it is not the end of the world. Although it may be hard, it is okay to be homesick. Many people feel as if it is a sign of weakness to call home or admit they miss home, but it really is not.

There are various methods to staying in contact with family, and pursuing some of those methods may lower the feeling of being homesick. Text, call and video calls (like FaceTime) are great methods to stay in contact with people back home, and utilizing them will make you feel better in the long run. 

Campus life is a process

Coming from the North, it was a total culture shock moving to the South. However, the biggest culture shock was life on campus. From learning the bus schedules to football chants, it was very overwhelming trying to adapt to a completely new area. 

Personally, I hate change. I am not good at adapting to new surroundings, nor am I any good at familiarizing myself with new things. I like having a routine, and when I moved ten hours south, my “home” routine was trashed. I found it very hard to adapt to a new area; it was stressful and long, and every second of it felt like a lifetime. 

While all the new things on campus may be overwhelming, campus taught me one thing: integration is a process that requires patience. As every other freshman, I knew nothing about the campus itself and life around campus. I had no clue how to get from point A to point B, nor did I know which was the best route to take. But having that patience allowed me to realize that campus life would not feel like this forever.

Put yourself out there

While it sounds so cliche, this concept is one of the most vital ones to me. When you come from out-of-state, little to no high school friends go to the same school as you. As a result, moving to a new campus is a completely clean slate. Being an out-of-state student is like starting life over, which only brings more stress into the student’s life. 

However, everyone tells you to leave your door open for a reason. My dorm is one of the best communities I have built in my home away from home. The people I have met here are extraordinary, and they provide the same support like my friends and family back home. I would have never met these people without leaving my door open or poking my head in their room to say “Hi.” Also, meeting people through other people is another way to build a community you can thrive in. Without any of these outstanding people on campus, I would not feel as comfortable or confident being away from home as I am today.

I learned that “putting myself out there” is not as scary as it sounds. Creating a community that feels like home does require some effort, but it’s not as much as people make it out to be. People on campus want to make friends, and so it is easy to start making those friends by striking up a conversation. There are endless opportunities to put yourself out there on campus, so why not take them?

Find your passion

Whether it be finding your passion or pursuing your passion, having something you look forward to doing once, twice or five times a week is a great way to develop yourself as an individual. To me, it is a little easier to experiment as an out-of-state student because there is no one on campus to tell you “no” except for yourself. You are free to try whatever you want, and if it doesn’t work, there are endless opportunities to try something else that fits better.

By having a passion, it takes your mind off of home. For me, having a ton of work to do helps me not think about home, and it also helps me be productive as well.

Not to mention, by trying out different things, you can meet more people, which only helps you boost your confidence and develop yourself even more.  

To this day it is still a little hard for me to cope with being so far from home. I miss everyone deeply—including my dogs. However, this past month has taught me that it is not only okay to miss home, but to focus on myself as well. No matter how hard it is leaving home, whether you are an in-state or an out-of-state student, it gets better and life goes on. Just make sure it is with the best people who make you feel at home. 

Dorian is a first year student majoring in Real Estate Sales and Psychology with a minor in Human Services. She is proud to be an out-of-state student and be the first in her family of UGA fans to attend the university. When she is not studying, Dorian enjoys writing, playing bass guitar, drawing or painting, and jamming out to rock music.
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